Atheism – still a dirty word?

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Discussion by: twiikeri

There's something I've been wondering for a while. Here in Finland the polls show that only half of Finnish people believe in a deity, and half don't. Still, only 21% say they're atheist.

I can understand why the religious find the word atheist negative, but why do the non-religious? Maybe some people think that one must claim to be 100% sure of the non-existence of gods to be atheist. And on a local level, since Finns have lived beside and fought wars against the Russians, the word "atheist" may still sound like "communist" to some. I don't believe in God but I don't consider myself an atheist because …

What sort of explanations have you heard? Any theories on this one?

88 COMMENTS

  1. I believe many people think that being an atheist means “believing that Yahweh doesn’t exist” .
    It means “not believing in any god”, for lack of evidence.

    Thought you can never say for sure that something doesn’t exist, even so called agnostics know very well if they believe (or not) in Yahweh, Thor or Zeus.

  2. The Finns have, to say the least, suffered long and greatly from the Russians, and I can well believe that the word “atheist” may still sound like “communist” to some. Even in the U.S. the two words were often–still are–spoken together: “The Communistic-Atheistic Threat.” And it was 1954, at the heart of that perceived threat, that the Congress felt they needed to insert “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Question: When you say that “communist” and “atheist” sound alike to some, is that in English or in Finnish?

  3. I’ve never heard someone say I don’t believe in god, but I’m not an atheist. I have heard many times, from people who I am sure are atheists, that they are agnostic or spiritual. Sometimes they want to avoid offending family, sometimes they just haven’t come to terms with their own belief, but it generally is a form of minor cowardice.

  4. Why does the term “atheism” even exist? We do not have words for people who do not believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman.

  5. I would take issue with calling a distaste for the term “atheist” minor cowardice. Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    “Well, technically, you cannot be any more than an agnostic. But I am as agnostic about God as I am about fairies and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You cannot actually disprove the existence of God. Therefore, to be a positive atheist is not technically possible.”

    I would agree that it’s minor cowardice to completely shield your beliefs or tendencies when asked directly. I tend towards atheism or hard agnosticism at a minimum but prefer E.O. Wilson’s term “provisional deism” because as explained by him it makes more sense:

    “I tend to believe that religious dogma is a consequence of evolution. Religious belief and the firm adherence to it—and the intense dislike of apostates, people who abandon it—has a very important biologic origin, probably through natural selection, namely the cohesion of the group and the persuasion of people to be more altruistic. So in my view, most dogmas concerning the creation are myths of creation and are not believable. They’re just different from one religion to another.” “When the question comes up, ‘If it’s not true, why does practically everybody believe in God?’ the answer is that it’s true in a Darwinian sense. That is, it provides cohesion, it provides personal peace and rites of passage, and it promotes altruism, which are all invaluable and necessary for the survival of human societies.” When it comes to whether he personally believes in God, Wilson says he’s “willing to consider the possibility of an ultimate cause. But we haven’t really come close to grasping what that might be.”

    In reply to #3 by canadian_right:

    I’ve never heard someone say I don’t believe in god, but I’m not an atheist. I have heard many times, from people who I am sure are atheists, that they are agnostic or spiritual. Sometimes they want to avoid offending family, sometimes they just haven’t come to terms with their own belief, but it ge…

  6. Escape the polls, definitions, and local barriers to free thought. Read, learn, enjoy. Geographical origin should not be a factor in the acquisition of knowledge.

  7. Terveisiä Suomesta. Kiva nähdä maanmies näillä sivustoilla.

    Although half of the population claim to hold some kind of belief in a deity or some supernatural force, Finland is nonetheless a very secular country. Few people go regularly (if ever) to church or claim to be religious. My experience is that atheism is pretty much a non-issue in Finland. Usually if people find out that I’m an atheist, the response is usually that people could not care less. I think the main reason why so few non-believers define themselves as atheists is because they regard the whole term as very intellectual and not really meaningful. In other words, they don’t really know what it means to be an atheist. The people I know who label themselves as atheists are usually intellectuals who are interested in philosophy and science in general. In other words, individuals who call themselves atheists tend to be quite conscious about their beliefs and non-beliefs.

    I guess, most people don’t really look at life through an intellectual lens and hence perhaps find the the term atheist a bit strange and unfamiliar. The fact that Finland is a very secular country probably contributes to this phenomenon. In religious countries like USA there seems to be a bigger need for non-believers to actively take a stand against religious beliefs and institutions.

    In Finland, religion is rarely discussed in public. Religious people are in general considered a bit weird. People generally regard religion as a private matter, and it might seem a bit absurd to use the term atheist in your everyday life. To be honest, I rarely use the term either. Simply because there’s no need to. I am rarely confronted by believers or forced to take a stand against religion. In most cases I don’t even know whether the people I meet are religious or not. Hence, I think many people simply don’t see the reason why they should adopt this term. I mean, the term only really makes sense when discussing religion and belief in gods. Since that rarely happens in Finland, the term might just seem unnecessary or even absurd. In other words, since wearing your religious beliefs on your sleeve is considered a bit weird and inappropriate wearing your non-beliefs on your sleeve might also seem a bit strange and absurd.

  8. In reply to #2 by 78rpm:

    Question: When you say that “communist” and “atheist” sound alike to some, is that in English or in Finnish?

    Well in Finnish communist is “kommunisti” and atheist is “ateisti”. Hence, whatever phonetic similarities there are between the words they are equally similar in English as in Finnish. Although I find it a quite far-fetched that Finns in general would associate these two words with each other. Perhaps some old folks, but not in general.

  9. In reply to #5 by Steven007:

    Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    No matter how many times the obvious has been pointed out, these misconceptions still prevail. Atheism is simply the opposite of theism. So what is theism? It’s almost exclusively defined as BELIEF in a god or gods. Hence, atheism is to not BELIEVE in a god or gods. It’s not defined as the act of KNOWING that a gods don’t exist. Get it?

    Agnosticism on the other hand is a matter of epistemology. Or in other words, whether we can gain knowledge about something or not. From a rational point of view, agnostics are atheists because if you can’t gain knowledge about gods you have no good reasons to believe in gods. Of course, even religious people use this term. Their point of view is that we can’t use science or perhaps even reason to demonstrate the existence of god. To believe in god is a spiritual matter. Believers have an inner feeling that god exists or that they’ve been touched by god. Technically, a person who has no opinion about the existence of gods or thinks that the probability is 0.5 could call themselves agnostics. But, that would first be a completely irrational position to take. Second, very few people mean that when they call themselves agnostic. It’s largely been transformed into this vague idea that you don’t believe that gods exist, but you aren’t really sure. In most instances, the term agnostic is completely unnecessary and is only used as a cop-out by people who don’t want to offend others by calling themselves atheists.

    I understand that meaning of words change and we just have to live with that. In this case though, it’s mainly due to ignorance and sloppiness. As I’ve pointed out several times I’m no fan of the term atheist. But, using the term agnostic in combination with the term atheist just makes things worse. Either stop using the term atheist altogether (in which case the term agnostic becomes pointless too), or be coherent. These two terms always go hand in hand. The term agnostic (when used the way sloppy cowards use it today) only makes sense when compared or associated with the term atheist. Hence, every time someone points out that they are agnostic because they are not completely sure whether gods exist or not we should ask them whether they believe gods exist or not. If the answer is no, then they are atheists. Period!

  10. Your argument seems to be with RD since I was directly quoting him from an interview. I do not disagree with your general treatise. It’s all semantics anyhow. But it’s semantics, as we’ve seen in another recently posted piece, that resonates more in countries such as the US than in many of the enlightened European countries.

    In reply to #9 by Nunbeliever:

    In reply to #5 by Steven007:

    Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    No matter how many times the obvious has been pointed out, these misconceptions still prevail. Atheism is simply the opposite of theism. So what is theism? It’s alm…

  11. In reply to #10 by Steven007:

    Your argument seems to be with RD since I was directly quoting him from an interview.

    Well, not really. Yes, I think Richard Dawkins is at times lending credence to this sloppy definition of agnosticism but it does not seem to be an important issue to him. The only times I’ve ever heard him discuss this issue is when confronted with the misconception that all atheists claim to know with absolute certainty that there are no gods.

    My argument is more with the this phenomenon in general. A good indicator that a term is too vague to be meaningful and even counter-productive is when you need a range of sub-categories to make sense of the original term. Hence, we are now not only talking about agnosticism, by weak and strong agnosticism, apathetic or pragmatic agnosticism or even theistic and atheistic agnosticism. In much the same way the term atheism is often divided into sub-categories like positive or negative atheism (strong or weak). I actually found a website that listed 17 forms of atheism: agnostic atheist, gnostic atheist, negative atheist, positive atheist, broad atheist, narrow atheist, unfriendly atheist, friendly atheist, indifferent atheist, closet atheist, open atheist, passive atheist, evangelical atheist, militant atheist, religious atheist, non-religious atheist.

    All, this to describe a term that really just means that you don’t believe in gods. I mean, what is there more to explain? Most of these sub-categories are quite absurd, and only reflect the fact that atheism is a term that no one seem to be satisfied with or really like. Yes, I’m an atheist but… (fill in the blank)

  12. “Atheist”, “agnostic”, “non-believer”, “anti-theist”, – frankly I get bored with the whole nitpicking that goes on over these words and others.

    I’m happy not to believe in any God or gods, nor the supernatural, and I’m also happy to be be regarded as a materialist.

    I must say I found Helsinki to be a pretty laid back place, but I did think the locals smoked too much, especially as it was February with the harbour frozen over and everyone had to be inside somewhere most of the time.

    For a short while, I lived in San Francisco, true not the Bible belt, but people were more interested in my star sign, than my religion, or lack of it. Of course I always lied about my star sign just to see what bollocks they would then invent !

  13. No argument here. My original beef was with the accusation (by another poster) of minor cowardice ascribed to those who aren’t in love with the term atheist. You admit to not being a fan of the term either. I will tell anyone to their face what I believe and don’t believe. So the word coward has no relevance and is instead unnecessarily inflammatory.

    In reply to #11 by Nunbeliever:

    In reply to #10 by Steven007:

    Your argument seems to be with RD since I was directly quoting him from an interview.

    Well, not really. Yes, I think Richard Dawkins is at times lending credence to this sloppy definition of agnosticism but it does not seem to be an important issue to him. The only ti…

  14. As Richard Dawkins said in a public debate, he is a-theist in the same way that he is a-fairyist and a-unicornist (as the evidence for these characters is the same, i.e. zero). I’m all of the above things although I do, Bob Springsteen, cling to the hope that that the Loch Ness Monster exists !! :)

  15. Alexinpessac:

    Oh there are plenty of monsters all around Loch Ness

    And these monsters are after your blood, billions of them ! Kill one and a thousand turn up for the funeral !

  16. In reply to #3 by canadian_right:

    but it generally is a form of minor cowardice.

    I look forward to the day when I can be as forthright in real life as I am when commenting on this site. The day hasn’t arrived yet and may not in my lifetime, though I live in hope. The only way forward is greater solidarity within the group and none of this namby-pamby agnostic stuff.

    My hope lies with those under thirty. They seem to have no trouble in stating their exact position. Perhaps this is a function of where I live. I wouldn’t place great hope in small-town America.

  17. In reply to #16 by Nitya:

    I look forward to the day when I can be as forthright in real life as I am when commenting on this site. The day hasn’t arrived yet and may not in my lifetime, though I live in hope.

    I find that very sad. I am fortunate to live in a secular country where no one cares whether you are an atheist or not. The fact that atheists in USA risk losing their friends and families due to something as mundane as not believing in a specific set of fairy tales just breaks my heart. It’s so tragic to think about all the families and lives that’s been shattered completely in vain. Just because the religious will rather excommunicate their own children than face their own mortality and other fears. It may not be of much comfort, but remember that the believers are the ones who in the end are imprisoned. By their own minds.

  18. In reply to #3 by canadian_right:

    I’ve never heard someone say I don’t believe in god, but I’m not an atheist. I have heard many times, from people who I am sure are atheists, that they are agnostic or spiritual. Sometimes they want to avoid offending family, sometimes they just haven’t come to terms with their own belief, but it ge…

    To me non belief is binary. There are only two states, belief or non belief I don’t understand these shades on non belief.

  19. In reply to #17 by Nunbeliever:

    In reply to #16 by Nitya:

    I think we’re much closer to your end if the scale than that of the US though we’re not there yet. There are other factors that come into play as well. I hate to reprise the old gender argument, but it’s far more socially acceptable for a male to be open about his atheism, or so it seems. It’s more challenging if you’re a female in your post-work years.
    It also depends on the group in which you’re socializing at the time. When I was teaching, being surroundedby teachers at work and away from work, there was a different atmosphere. Subjects such as religion and politics were open for discussion. These days opportunities for this sort of discussion are limited to specific groups. Even then, it pays to be mindful of the prevailing climate if acceptance. It could be perceived as saying that the believers in the group are fools!

  20. Whichever epistemological definition of atheism you prefer, it seems like the term “atheism”, at least in many countries, is still commonly associated with anti-theism. Anti-theists are the ones most likely to use the label “atheist”, are the ones most likely to be promote its use, and are the most likely to get upset when someone resists the “atheist” label. Those who do resist it typically do so because they don’t want to be considered an anti-theist, even if they don’t believe in any gods.

  21. In reply to #20 by SelfAwarePatterns:

    Whichever epistemological definition of atheism you prefer, it seems like the term “atheism”, at least in many countries, is still commonly associated with anti-theism. Anti-theists are the ones most likely to use the label “atheist”, are the ones most likely to be promote its use, and are the most…

    I don’t think that’s really true, unless you just mean that the people who want to slander atheism say that. I haven’t seen any polling data that show the majority of atheists in most nations identify as being anti-theists nor that the majority of people see them that way. I think on the contrary most atheists don’t care much either way about theists and most theists feel the same. It’s only the extremists on both sides that claim taking a position one way means you have to start hating everyone that disagrees with you.

  22. In reply to #21 by Red Dog:

    In reply to #20 by SelfAwarePatterns:

    Whichever epistemological definition of atheism you prefer, it seems like the term “atheism”, at least in many countries, is still commonly associated with anti-theism. Anti-theists are the ones most likely to use the label “atheist”, are the ones most likely…

    “Anti” doesn’t mean “hating”. It just means “against”. An anti-theist is simply opposed to the idea of theism, by contrast with an atheist who doesn’t have any problem with theism. For instance, Dawkins is an anti-theist because he publicly criticizes the god hypothesis, and Daniel Dennett is an anti-theist because he’s criticized theism and other religious beliefs. And SelfAwarePatterns has a point: the stereotypes of explicit atheists in many parts of the media are almost always based on “angry anti-theist” portrayals. “God’s Not Dead”, the movie Herb Silverman reviewed recently, is an obvious example.

  23. in my experience (in the UK) people don’t like the word because it identifies them as something. so many are brought up with no religion the term isn’t really needed but I think these days it’s become more tarnished by the global backlash. everyone can bash an atheist without being called a bigot. all that pent up rage because it’s unPC to be sexist, racist or homophobic has a new acceptable target and I think nowadays it has political undertones. these days if you identify yourself as one it must follow you hate religious people.

    ironically I, like many others I’m sure, was fervently anti-religion long before I used the term atheist for myself. still, the dirtier the word becomes, the happier I am to use it on myself

  24. In reply to #23 by SaganTheCat:

    in my experience (in the UK) people don’t like the word because it identifies them as something. so many are brought up with no religion the term isn’t really needed but I think these days it’s become more tarnished by the global backlash. everyone can bash an atheist without being called a bigot. a…

    My experience is very different. I think people are more comfortable labelling themselves as an atheist in the UK than they were twenty years ago. When I was at uni I knew very few people who would say they are atheists but now I know dozens. Also, in public life we seem to have many more self proclaimed atheists including many actors, scientists and even high level politicians (both the leader of the opposition and the deputy prime minister). If the word was so tarnished I don’t think this would be the case.

    I think many more use the word agnostic because they know theists find it less challenging. It suggests doubt rather than certainty (I’m talking public perception of the word). Many theists don’t even like the thought that their friends and family disbelieve something they consider of such importance.

    I was looking at councils guide to religions yesterday and took interest in the tiny paragraph about Atheism, as opposed to pages about the large religions.
    It defined Atheism as “People who believe in atheism are called atheists. ” Slightly odd phrasing – a tautology surely, or an attempt to make it sound like a faith based belief.
    “Atheism is the absence of belief in any Gods or spiritual beings. Atheists do not base the existence of the universe on a belief in God. Atheists also believe humans can devise their own moral codes to live their life by and do not need God or scriptures in order to do this. ” – Good thats short and too the point, but then …
    “People may choose to be atheists because religion does not interest them or religion may not seem relevant to their lives.”
    What why would you be interested in worshipping a being you thought didn’t exist? This last sentence I think was there to make it seem like religion is great and atheists are just to lazy to get involved. But also I think not to offend those who are religious with the realization that the reason they are now in minority as more and more people just don’t believe what they believe any more.

  25. In reply to #5 by Steven007:

    I would take issue with calling a distaste for the term “atheist” minor cowardice. Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    “Well, technically, you cannot be any more than an agnostic. But I am as agnostic about God as I am about fair…

    I’ve always thought atheism was the belief that there are no gods, not the belief you have proved there are no gods. I’m as confident there are no gods as I’m confident there are no garden fairies.

  26. In reply to #24 by mr_DNA:

    In reply to #23 by SaganTheCat:

    “People who believe in atheism are called atheists.

    oh dear!

    I think you can file that under “not even wrong”. no doubt written by someone of faith but I hate these constant arguments that atheism is a religion or in some way equal to all other belief systems. Atheists make a point of arguing against this view because it’s wrong. theists make a point of arguing for it because atheists think it’s wrong not because they think it’s right. in truth the last thing any theist wants is to find atheim holds the same rights and benefits as their religion

    i’m almost tempted to say let’s call their bluff

  27. Duly noted. See my conversation with Nunbeliever above for more context concerning the origin of my beef.

    In reply to #25 by canadian_right:

    In reply to #5 by Steven007:

    I would take issue with calling a distaste for the term “atheist” minor cowardice. Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    “Well, technically, you cannot be any more than an agnostic. But I am as agnosti…

  28. Two very different statements which many (most?) people conflate: “I do not believe that god exists”, and “I believe that god does not exist”.

  29. The main medium to control people and reality is to control words.If you can control the meaning of words, than you can control people that use that words. There is a sentence in Genesis I think that goes like this:”In the beginning there was a word, and that word was from god, and the god was the word”. (sorry I don not remember exactly), it shows that it is imperative to rule people through meanings of word, and who think otherwise is a traitor. I sometimes feel uncomfortable when people say for me that I am an atheist. This is a label that politicians and religious people have invented for labeling me (or us nonbelievers) in order to manipulate. I just don’t believe in god. I am not religious person. Americans and all politicians of the world need to brainwash their nation in order to manipulate them. They are not going to give freedom to a nation, their job is to control people. Control it through words (ideas). We are guilty for allowing it. American have brainwashed their people with that word “communism” as something bad and dark. I am not sure that Americans know what that word actually means. Words are not irrelevant, they are constructed in order to manipulate people. Naming objects they become easily manipulative. I do not like when someone tell me that I am an atheist because I find it to be an aggressive act and a form of abuse. I will not let them manipulate me!

  30. In reply to #29 by Modesti:

    The main medium to control people and reality is to control words.If you can control the meaning of words, than you can control people that use that words. There is a sentence in Genesis I think that goes like this:”In the beginning there was a word, and that word was from god, and the god was the w…

    I think it’s actually the Gospel of John you are thinking of not Genesis:

     In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    The Gospel of John was written later than the other three and reflects different influences. It’s one of the few bits of the official New Testament that reflects the influence of the Gnostics, who in turn were probably influenced as much by Plato and Neoplatonists as by Jewish mysticism. Many of the other Gnostic gospels and other texts were really out there and deemed too subversive by the emerging Catholic leaders of the new church.

    But getting to your main point, it’s a common idea, especially in the Humanities, the old “Eskimoes have a hundred words for snow” idea but many people who actually study language scientifically such as Steven Pinker don’t agree with it. For starters Eskimoes actually don’t have a hundred words for snow, they have a few more words than other languages — not surprising — but nothing close to 100. Also, the data we have about language evolution and use mostly contradicts the hypothesis. What we find instead is that there are striking uniformities across languages and that what seems to matter are the ideas behind the words not so much the words themselves. Steven Pinker goes into this in detail in The Blank Slate and The Language Insitinct.

  31. In reply to #2 by 78rpm:

    The Finns have, to say the least, suffered long and greatly from the Russians, and I can well believe that the word “atheist” may still sound like “communist” to some. Even in the U.S. the two words were often–still are–spoken together: “The Communistic-Atheistic Threat.” And it was 1954, at th…
    Seems like some people hear the word atheist as communist on any language (in finnish they don´t sound alike ateisti and kommunisti, but older people seem to regard them as one and the same). I´ve even heard my grandpa say “when we fought the atheists….” Hopefully the connection between these ideas will be forgotten with time.

  32. In reply to #4 by Bob Springsteen:

    Why does the term “atheism” even exist? We do not have words for people who do not believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman.
    The word atheism wouldn´t exist without religion, same as the word healthy wouldn´t exist without sickness. I truly believe there will be a time, when one won´t have to label him-/herself as an atheist, but since theism seems to be to norm in todays world, such labels are still needed.

  33. In reply to #9 by Nunbeliever:

    In reply to #5 by Steven007:

    Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    No matter how many times the obvious has been pointed out, these misconceptions still prevail. Atheism is simply the opposite of theism. So what is theism? It’s alm…
    Terkkuja vaan.
    Indeed, one needn´t to disprove gods to be an atheist, since the word only describes ones views in the matter, not the accuracy of or evidence on those views.

  34. I think, you are right about both. I live in Latvia and bulk of people associate Atheism with Soviet Union (occupant state in our case), allthough I can only agree that Soviet Union was atheistic only because belief in supernatural was replaced by belief in the Leaders.
    And about percents, it is also correct, because, at least here, many have problems with words of Latin and Greek orgin….
    At least, I suppose in your language it is not possible to change one letter in the word “Atheist” and get somebody closely associated with toilets.

  35. In reply to #5 by Steven007:

    I would take issue with calling a distaste for the term “atheist” minor cowardice. Even RD himself concedes that the term “atheist” is technically incorrect, or at a minimum disingenuous:

    “Well, technically, you cannot be any more than an agnostic. But I am as agnostic about God as I am about fair…
    Of course, there are no 100% things. For example, I ma linguist and all languages can be subdivided into Synthetic (word order in the sentence does not matter) and Analytic (it does matter). My native language is closer to the first, but not 100%, because change of word order can add some nuance; but English is closer to the second, but again, it is not 100% analytic. BUT this subdivision is still retained, because it provides some information.

  36. I have read tomes of words by both atheists and believers. I find many Religious people are loathe to enter into dialogue about their
    beliefs. Self-centredness and one-track minds comes to thought. At least Richard Dawking, whilst having a doubt, is open about
    his feelings, but I would have felt happier if he was 100% sure.. Does he ever feel doiubt in his words ?

  37. Twiikeri,
    Your good note is already answering the question. Those who don’t admit (openly) are most likely afraid of being branded with the horrible events (past or present). The only way to change this is to educate people and openly stand for your beliefs, so more people realize that communism and atheism are not the same. We are full of branding and connecting, and mostly right to do so, but not always. Shall any of the words, e.g. Boxing, Homosexual, Polygamy, Tattoos etc. have connections to an overall negative judgement? If ‘yes’. is it based on facts or mainly on what other also think?

  38. Thought this was interesting. Found it in You Tube and the title is “Richard Dawkins has become a Christian?!

  39. The GOSPEL TRUTH – The greatest sin on Earth was when God presented ‘his children’ with the option to do bad things. This temptation
    has been,and still is, the instigator of ALL sin on Earth. Pious people, as young people, have been impregnated with the ‘good god’
    dogma over generations and now it is hereditary. Denying the young of the natural right to freedom of thought and choice and being
    consigned to an Ivory Tower. Catholic Sin in God’s Backyard – The Vatican – is the lowest point. Sexually abusing youngsters by
    thousands of Priests and poisoning their innocent minds is hypocritical. Also the unlawful laundering of Church Funds by THE
    VATICAN BANK for the purpose of tax evasion, and being run by a Catholic Cardinal is another disgrace to the frocked. In both cases
    they have been reprieved to walk the streets with incarceraton, They call this – Church Protectionism for the Catholic Heirarchy.
    Us ordinary mortals would have been put away and qiite rightly so – as in the Stuart Hall case. To HELL with religious imagination
    and symbolism, leave your Ivory Towers ,holy ones’ and absorb the TRUE factors on Earth today Edward Wilcock (86)

  40. In reply to #40 by Edward Wilcock:

    The GOSPEL TRUTH – The greatest sin on Earth was when God presented ‘his children’ with the option to do bad things. This temptation
    has been,and still is, the instigator of ALL sin on Earth. Pious people, as young people, have been impregnated with the ‘good god’
    dogma over generations and now it…

  41. I believe that feminism is ultimately a product of atheistic culture, and that the only way to cure us of it is a paradigm shift. What I have in mind is a variation of memetic theory… a school of thought that comes under the topic of semiotics.

    The ultimate test of a successful paradigm is its ability to provide real-world solutions to real-world problems. My posts on AVFM do not specifically spell out semiotic or cybernetic or systems-theoretical principles, but they are there, always informing me of the interweaved layers of meaning that are ultimately bound together into a cultural whole. There is a paradigm-shift in the making. In this spirit, I provide my latest contribution:
    http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-violence/the-misandry-behind-misogyny/

    As you could imagine, these ideas are heretical to the Church of the Establishment and its followers:
    http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/dont-let-them-silence-us-international-conference-on-mens-issues/

    History repeats. Does it, or what?

  42. Why do I need a label? I believe in reality, what I see, observe and can learn to make a judgement for myself. I’m a decent chap and enjoy helping others. Why do I have to have a label such as Atheist, Humanist..etc..etc – do I have to be part of a club like the religious folk do?

    I would call myself…. a realist :-)

  43. I respect Atheists and Agnostics.

    First I don´t know any Atheist Country -even Communists have a belief.
    Second, why do Atheists write about God all the time? what Authority do they have if they never had the experience of God or Religion yet they have interest? like Nietszche or Marx or Freud?

    I dont find the word Atheist negative, I have atheist friends, but I think most people want to be sure they believe in something like them, and also atheism I think has been related to Scientific, and I think that´s also a negative stereotype as not all atheists are great scientists neither objective, as not all religious people are not good scientists. Mendel was a Monk, the father of Genetics!, Einstein spoke about God, a great Pantheist and Scientist, Darwin was a Christian too but then converted. Galileo, Netwon had beliefs too.

    We need to separate personal beliefs from the object we study I think, with or without God, with or without Religion we must remain I think neutral in Science and let those prejudices away, but that doesn´t mean that scientist can´t believe in anything or anyone.

    I see a tendency of more atheist young people (I am 36 years and a Teacher) and I see students with more doubts -as anyone has- I don´t believe as a Religious Person that I own the truth neither that I have the hole truth, I respect all for what they believe, but I see tendency in young students to have atheist views rather than religious ones, and I think it would be fair to think we must teach both sides of the coin.

    Sorry about my english, I am from México.

  44. Now, don´t we have also false beliefs in Science?

    I don´t find “false beliefs” just in Religion -we have many false beliefs or myths today but also I believe in truths in Religion- Science with mistakes and errors is also full of false beliefs don´t we?

  45. ATHEIST/ATHEISM is the worst word in the world. IT WILL NEVER MAKE CHANGE. And that idiotic logo that reminds [A]narchy.
    Imagine you enter an atheist club. Youll see all kinds of people. And everyone is not neccessary good.(there are satanists, anarchists … everyone unser one roof) Im strictly disgusted with this idea.
    I dont understang why Dawkins is so hard pushing this term. It sholud be HUMANISM ALL THE WAY!
    Can you imagine a headline “In year 2100 the whole Earth is governed by Atheism”. Makes no sense.

  46. FRANCISCO X Jul 19, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I respect Atheists and Agnostics.

    First I don´t know any Atheist Country -even Communists have a belief.

    Communist ideology is a belief. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods or an understanding of the lack of evidence for gods.

    Second, why do Atheists write about God all the time?

    They don’t! They write about the damaging effects of god-delusions and imposition of dogmas.

    what Authority do they have if they never had the experience of God or Religion yet they have interest?

    Many atheists were religious before they matured mentally to reject supernatural beliefs, so are well informed on their earlier religions.

    if they never had the experience of God

    You seem to have the mistaken view that the religious people of the world all believe in one god. This is simply wrong. Hindus for example believe in many gods. Some Buddhists believe in none! While those who do believe in one god, certainly don’t all believe in the same one, or the same version of a god.

  47. FRANCISCO X Jul 19, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Now, don´t we have also false beliefs in Science?

    When scientists make mistakes, other scientists expose the errors when they retest the experiments and observations.

    I don´t find “false beliefs” just in Religion -we have many false beliefs or myths today

    There are indeed many false beliefs today. AntiVaxers, fortune-tellers, Moon-Landing conspiracy theorists, UFO nuts etc. They all use confirmation bias and wishful thinking instead of evidenced logic.

    but also I believe in truths in Religion-

    The faithful believe in the “truths” of the religion they were indoctrinated in and dismiss other conflicting religions as wrong. Atheists look at objective evidence and for religions it is simply missing.

    Science with mistakes and errors is also full of false beliefs

    That is simply wrong!
    Scientific methodology is the best system we have for establishing how reality works. It grades the probability of the level of supporting evidence for its claims. – (False and debunked, Speculation, hypothesis, theory, laws.)

    Unlike religions, once a false view has been proved false using evidence from repeat testing, science dumps it and moves on, whereas religions just keep on asserting long-held falsehoods and adding new ones using unevidenced “faith-thinking”> Science uses objective evidence and independent testing, to falsify or reconfirm or refine earlier work.
    Nobody using science, simply says “This is true beyond testing, because we say so”, or “because some ancient book says so”!

  48. The idea that a large group of people don’t accept the notion of a theistic universe as true is still far younger than the other way around, and with science explaining more and more of what was once an opaque universe room for deities falls to smaller and smaller places. We have better explanations than the old ‘my tribal deity did it’ routine and it is a threat to those that thrive on the belief, who in many cases happen to have lots of influence in many places in the world.

    If you wish to understand why the term itself is often met with such vehemence, look no farther than that. Believers have had the advantage of dominance for centuries, and over time that dominance has waned. More and more about how the universe works is known and none of it offers consolation to theists because it doesn’t promote their flavor of worship.

    Atheism as a word is harmless; it simply means lack of theistic belief. But fear of the theistic universe falling further out of favor makes people who call themselves atheists an easy target, and therefore subject to any vitriol or mockery they can muster. regardless of what word you use, if it boils down to ‘I don’t believe in any god’ it equals atheist and the same response usually comes to the fore.

    Obviously not to say all theists get up in arms at people that don’t share their beliefs (or indeed any beliefs) but the hatred of the word atheist comes primarily from people who don’t like their beliefs challenged.

  49. If a theist can call himself a believer because he believes in a god that he can’t prove exists then why can’t a non-theist call himself Atheist without having to prove that gods don’t exist? I am an Atheist but I don’t feel I need to prove there are no gods in order to believe what I choose to believe; that is, that there are no invisible skygods. The onus is not on me to disprove anything.

  50. Using the term cowardice implies that you expect to be attacked for declaring your non belief.Why are believers so hostile to non believers? After all,scientist operate from a point of non belief. I think it is because belief is so fragile-even the most fervent religious believer knows somewhere in his heart that belief is not fact.Thus an agnostic or atheist is seen as a threat. Look how violently islamists react when someone mocks or ridicules Islam or their prophet. If you are sure of yourself,why be bothered?
    swami purnesh Oct 26 2014 at 10;09 pm

  51. purnesh Oct 26, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Why are believers so hostile to non believers?

    It is probably because of brainwashing by preachers who have no grasp of the concept of thinking without the preconceptions of “belief”, and no conception of moral codes without supernatural dictates!

    Many of those who come here to argue, are black and white thinkers who have been indoctrinated in binary thinking in false dichotomies.

    Christ v Anti-Christ. Good v evil. Faith v atheism! – The discontinuous minds of “Faith-belief”!

    Their indoctrinated cognitive biases, tell them their “faith” is everything “good” so “anti-faith” must be “everything evil”!

    Even those who have shed the fallacies of “faith”, sometimes seem stuck with these concepts, and those from such cultures, do not associate their move to god-free-status with the much denigrated “atheism”!

    Believers are also hostile to other “faiths” as the long history of religious wars show.
    To the dichotomous thinker, there are only two viewpoints:- Theirs and THE opposing wrong one!

  52. An atheist is not simply someone who does not believe in God.

    Although an atheist holds a lot in common with an agnostic in that they both attribute life and the subsequent emergence of intelligence as an unintended emergent property of the physical laws we are immersed within, they take the additional step of advocating that since at present there is no evidence to date that any exterior/metaphysical mindfulness was deliberately involved in the process, we should… everyone… everywhere…. unilaterally embrace as an intellectual “given” that no such a mindfulness exists in the process.

    This is why the term “atheism” has a negative connotation, whether one wishes to acknowledge it or not, it appears to have a dogmatic view of things associated around the ideology. Open minded is just that, open to any or all possibilities, not closing off of any idea.

  53. Thomas
    Jun 7, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    An atheist is not simply someone who does not believe in God.

    The use of the term “God” with a capital “G”is often taken as assuming the existence of some monotheistic default god.

    they take the additional step of advocating that since at present there is no evidence to date that any exterior/metaphysical mindfulness was deliberately involved in the process, we should… everyone… everywhere…. unilaterally embrace as an intellectual “given” that no such a mindfulness exists in the process.

    While this is an exaggeration, many atheists would hope that others would take an evidence based view of probabilities.

    This is why the term “atheism” has a negative connotation, whether one wishes to acknowledge it or not, it appears to have a dogmatic view of things associated around the ideology.

    Atheism has no “ideology”! It is simply an absence of belief in (thousands) of gods.

    The assertion of “atheist ideology”, is simply a negative spin, from theists whose own ideology is challenged by the concept of atheism.

    Open minded is just that, open to any or all possibilities, not closing off of any idea.

    I have always considered it comical, that this argument is usually presented by theists who casually dismiss, (without further thought), all gods except their own, (or even all gods except their own version!).

    A critical scientific open mind looks at, and evaluates evidence .
    It is not like a bucket into which any passing nonsense can be poured and casually accepted.
    Ideas have to have some credible basis to be worth spending time on. Nobody goes looking for some remote uncontacted tribe’s gods, in order to refute their existence! (Except perhaps god-deluded missionaries.)

  54. Hello Alan,

    I had no idea whether anyone actually checked on these posts or not, the dates seem to be spread out along a long time continuum. So its nice to see that there are minds afoot on the board here.

    My response was/is meant as a reply to the question as to why the term atheist creates negative feedback. And the main point to what i posted is that atheism is not simply a belief there is not a god, ( i used God with a capital G as to not offend those who believe in a deity, not as an advocacy of that position, i’m agnostic, and a clinical social worker who works with clients who hold such beliefs), it is at the same time an advocacy that this perspective should be the standard cognitive framing paradigm for everyone in all settings.

    To remove the negative feedback remove the advocacy portion, and then it becomes a simple academic challenge to “proove” things using evidence rather than anyone taking a position to “disproove” things.

  55. Thomas
    Jun 7, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    To remove the negative feedback remove the advocacy portion,

    A lot depends on the nature of the individual or the audience of the discussion.

    and then it becomes a simple academic challenge to “proove” things using evidence rather than anyone taking a position to “disproove” things.

    An academic audience competent in debate, is likely to understand the onus of proof, and the negative proof fallacy.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Negative_proof

    If the only evidence for something’s existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of mild skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God’s existence or in pseudosciences where it is used as an attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence.

    Form

    X is true because there is no proof that X is false.

    Or

    You do not know what X is. Therefore we do.

    For those who are unlikely to understand the niceties of logic, the “Which god is that?” approach is more likely to stimulate thought.

  56. Once again, my response was to highlight why the term atheist is received negatively. And that is because of the advocacy component that is inherent in the term atheist. It rises above simply being a persons perspective that believes or disbelieves something. It engages/challenges the community at large in an atypical way, in that it shifts the typical burden of proof from proving a positive to disproving a negative. Once that is done it deliberately invites a response, and a portion of those will be negative.

  57. Thomas. I don’t like the word atheist. The original clinical meaning has been hijack to become a term utter in a sentence of vitriol. I would like to see the atheist community try to put the term to bed in their communications. I like to use the term a “Rational Evidence Based Person”. A disbelief in god is just the collateral damage of a rational mind. It’s no big deal. I just find no evidence.

    But there is a need for a debate, and indeed a campaign by Rational Evidence Based People across a broad range of topics, one of which happens to be the use of religion as a decider of things in a modern world, with all of the consequences. But their are a myriad of subjects where a rational evidence based approach would be preferred to quackery, mysticism, pseudo science, ideologies of all colours… etc etc. Each decision we make as an individual, as a family, city, country and indeed as citizens of planet earth should have an evidentiary foundation.

    For example. There is evidence that we should reduce the burning of fossil fuels. We don’t make this rational evidence based decision because there is an ideology, free market capitalism, that sees it will loose money, so opposes action on the basis of personal greed.

    In relation to religion, slowly over time, given religion has no evidence to support its beliefs, and that morals and ethics can be shown to fall out of evolution and commonsense, that religion should slowly be moved to the back seat, and practiced by consenting adults in private. There will be angst and conflict as this occurs over the next 100 years, and yet it still must be done, because we cannot go on having US Foreign policy influenced by evangelical christians wanting a war based on Israel so Armageddon can occur, the rapture, and the selected few get invited to heaven. Similarly religion needs to be sidelined or preferably removed from M.E. politics.

    So drop the word atheist, and argue with the force of evidence and reason.

  58. It causes fear and trepidation because we are accustomed to being lorded over from birth in one facet or another. Systems are fashioned to dictate our lives without us realizing to what extent it is being done. We also fear the thought of mankind being in charge of what we do because dictatorship and totalitarianism is evident and possibly will destroy us for selfishness and even more, ignorance. The solutions we need are often too expensive for the current established systems in place and we are at the mercy of government and the judicial system regardless of how much that fact is denied. We also are intimidated for being thought of as arrogant and know by experience that some smart people have taken advantage of being in control which has caused the unaware much difficulty and damage. Basically believing in humanity is scary!!!!!!

  59. Its not that it is a dirty word. Its just that strong atheists held a irrational belief, that is based on wishful thinking and emotion, not reason. A rational person follows the evidence. And the scientific evidence clearly points to a intelligent creator.

    What does the Bible say about atheism?

    http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t1953-what-does-the-bible-say-about-atheism#3275

    “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God!’ Corrupt up and injustices committed detestable; there is none who does good “(Psalm 14: 1).

    This is one of the statements that the Bible makes about atheism. We highlight two points:
    Atheism is nonsense
    Denying the existence of God is foolish because the existence of God is obvious. The Bible in no time seeks to defend the existence of God because it is the most basic of all truths. The Bible begins already stating categorically: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1: 1)

    Looking at the account of Genesis 1:1 for just a brief moment, the words in that first verse are quite remarkable. They are indicative of the incredible mind of God. God says in that first verse everything that could have been said about creation and He says it in such few terms. The statement is precise and concise almost beyond human composition. A well-known scientist named Herbert Spencer died in 1903. He discovered that all reality, all reality, all that exists in the universe can be contained in five categories…time, force, action, space and matter. Herbert Spencer said everything that exists, exists in one of those categories…time, force, action, space and matter.

    Now think about that. Time, force, action, space and matter. That is a logical sequence. And then with that in your mind, listen to Genesis 1:1. “In the beginning,” that’s time…”God,” that’s force, “created,” that’s action, “the heavens,” that’s space, “and the earth,” that’s matter. Everything that could be said about everything that exists is said in that first verse.

    Now either you believe that or you don’t. You either believe that that verse is accurate and God is the force or you believe that God is not the force that created everything. And then you’re left with chance or randomness or coincidence.

    The Bible says that God can not be known completely for us, but it can be sufficiently known:

    God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools “(Romans 1:20).

    They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
    Ephesians 4:18

    But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”Revelation 21:8

    God is clearly seen in creation. Thus, atheism is considered foolish because it is irrational, is to go against the clear, reasonable. In fact, atheism is the greatest possible folly of existence. The atheist simply close their eyes to the evidence and closes his ears to reason. But for what reason he does this? This brings us to the next point:

    The atheism of nonsense comes from the sinful heart of man

    No person becomes atheist for arguments sake, but because of sin in his heart. There is no single conclusive argument to prove the non-existence of God. In Romans 1:19 the Bible says that atheists do not deny God by logic, but by injustice, “men suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”
    The Bible says that the atheist denies the existence of God because he decided to live for sin. That is, should the atheist that God does not exist. As Augustine said: “No one denies God unless that interests you that God does not exist”

    The Bible says that even animals do not doubt the existence of God: “Ask, however, the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; speak to the earth, and it will instruct you, let the fish of the sea inform the. About all they ignore the hand of the LORD has done this “(Job 12: 7-9)?. More than that, the Bible says that even the demons doubt the existence of God: “Do you believe there is a God? Very well! Even the demons believe – and shudder “(James 2:19)!.

    Conclusion
    The Bible disqualifies atheism as a valid belief, revealing its irrationality, inconsistency and incoherence. Thus, the Bible does not waste time with atheism, the bible worries about idolatry. The first of the Ten Commandments is against idolatry, not against atheism. The great danger of civilization is not that she does not believe in God, but she delivered the wicked fantasies and imaginations.
    Men never cease to believe in something, because they are always in search of God, of meaning, of purpose, of eternal life. Thus, men are always making gods for themselves. Even atheists worship gods, either sex, addiction, money, status, or even a philosopher. The big question is not “Does God exist?” But rather, “What kind of God exists?”. Therefore Jesus also did not bother much with atheism, but with idolatry. His concern was not only that people believe in God but who believe in the true God. He prayed: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17: 3).

  60. Thus, the Bible does not waste time with atheism, the bible worries about idolatry.

    I think they called that one wrong. The Bible should have been very worried about atheism. It’s the atheists, humanists, secularists, and skeptics who are doing a number on religion, not the idolaters. They’re just not on anyone’s radar. But anyone who pays this much attention to a 2000+ year old book of right and wrong is bound to be seriously behind the times themselves.

    Otangelo, you belong in a museum so that people can see what a fossilized mind looks like. It’s not a pretty sight. Let’s not upset the children with it.

  61. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 12, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Its not that it is a dirty word. Its just that strong atheists held a irrational belief, that is based on wishful thinking and emotion, not reason.

    You seem unaware of psychological projection, and show no undersatnding that logic is a process not a badge for thosee seeking authority for their assertions.

    A rational person follows the evidence.

    That is very much so. They also present evidence when making a claim.

    And the scientific evidence clearly points to a intelligent creator.

    Err no! The scientific evidence points to the evolution of the universe according to the laws of physics.

    What does the Bible say about atheism?

    Given that the Bible is a collection of bronze-age mythology, and is certainly not a history book or a science book, what it says is of little consequence in understanding the material universe, although it does give some insights into the nature of religious thinking.

    There is no single conclusive argument to prove the non-existence of God.

    Which god? There are, and have been, thousands of gods with numerous followers! The onus of proof is on their followers to produce evidence of their gods.
    It is not everyone else’s job to disprove all the gods which have been asserted to exist over millennia!

    The Bible disqualifies atheism as a valid belief, revealing its irrationality, inconsistency and incoherence.

    The Bible is a classic example of irrationality, inconsistency and incoherence. Unfortunately many of its modern proponents cannot recognise rationality when they see it, having been schooled in faith-thinking fallicies, which pretend mental contortions to accommodate unevidenced assertions and self-contradictions, are logical reasoning based on evidence.

  62. Otangelo, you belong in a museum so that people can see what a
    fossilized mind looks like. It’s not a pretty sight. Let’s not upset
    the children with it.

    empty rhetoric does not impress me. Naturalists love to invoke evolution as a theory with sufficient explanatory power to safisfy the intellect of our minds. When i look into the evidence in nature, however, all i see is the extraordinay beauty and creative power of a amazing DESIGNER, that set up and created life. From the fine tuning of the universe, to amazing nano molecular machines and high-technology, fully automated , interlocked and interdependent cells, working with different codes to produce self sustaining life. I can’t imagine that chance set up the genetic code, and the translation mechanism from codons to the 20 amino acids , and able to assign the right codons to the right amino acids to produce funcional proteins. I have never seen natural mechanisms producing coded, complex, specified information, and irreducible complex machines. Humans, equipped with intelligent minds imho do it all the time. That makes it more than rational to infer a intelligent designer as the best explanation of causal power to create the natural world.

  63. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 13, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    When i look into the evidence in nature, however, all i see is the extraordinay beauty and creative power of a amazing DESIGNER, . . .

    I can’t imagine that chance set up the genetic code, and the translation mechanism from codons to the 20 amino acids , and able to assign the right codons to the right amino acids to produce funcional proteins.

    This is a statement of personal incredulity, which illustrates a profound ignorance of evolutionary mechanisms.

    That makes it more than rational to infer a intelligent designer as the best explanation of causal power to create the natural world.

    This is simply egocentric anthopomorphic thinking.
    On the scale of the Universe, the Solar-System, Earth and humans, represent such a microscopic trace percentage of matter and energy, that in normal scientific work they would be disregarded as so small as to be irrelevant to the larger system.

    Rationality, as perviously stated, is a process of deduction and inductive thinking, which in science begins with objective evidence.
    It is not a badge to be stuck on to unevidenced opinions in an attempt to add authority to assertions.

  64. No, this is a informed inference based on what i DO know. And you bring evolution into the game where it does not belong. The genetic code and translation machinery had to be in place BEFORE life began, since life depends on dna replication, transcription, and translation. I can’t imagine it, because the odds are too big. Let me explain.

    What must be explained, is the arrangement of the codons in the standard codon table which is highly non-random, and serves to translate into the amino acid sequence to make proteins, and the origin of the assignment of the 64 triplet codons to the 20 amino acids. That is, the origin of its translation. The origin of a alphabet through the triplet codons is one thing, but on top, it has to be translated to a other ” alphabet ” constituted through the 20 amino acid sequence. That is, as to explain the origin of capability to translate the english language into chinese. On top of that, the machinery itself to promote the process itself has also to be explained, that is the hardware. When humans translate english to chinese, for example, we recognise the english word, and the translator knows the equivalent chinese symbol and writes it down. In the cell, Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase recognise the triplet anticodon of the tRNA, and attach the equivalent amino acid to the tRNA. How could random chemical reactions produced this recognition ? Lets suppose rather than intelligence, chance were the mechanism. The imaginary cell would have to select randomly any of the amino acids, restrict by a unknown mechanism to the 20 used for life, since there are more out there, select by a unknown mechanism only left handed ones, and make a test drive and produce a polynucleotide and see what happens. Some theories try to explain the mechanism, but they all remain unsatisfactory. Obviously. Furthermore, Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase are complex enzymes. For what reason would they have come to be, if the final function could only be employd after the whole translation process was set in place, with a fully functional ribosome being able to do its job? Remembering the catch22 situation, since they are by themself made through the very own process in question ? Why is it not rational to conclude that the code itself, the software, as well as the hardware, are best explained through the invention of a highly intelligent being, rather than random chemical affinities and reactions? Questions: what good would the ribosome be for without tRNA’s ? without amino acids, which are the product of enormously complex chemical processes and pathways ? What good would the machinery be good for, if the code was not established, and neither the assignment of each codon to the respective amino acid ? had the software and the hardware not have to be in place at the same time? Were all the parts not only fully functional if fully developed, interlocked, set-up, and tuned to do its job with precision like a human made motor ? And even it lets say, the whole thing was fully working and in place, what good would it be for without all the other parts required, that is, the DNA double helix, its compactation through histones and chromatins and chromosomes, its highly complex mechanism of information extraction and transcription into mRNA? Had the whole process , that is INITIATION OF TRANSCRIPTION, CAPPING, ELONGATION, SPLICING, CLEAVAGE,POLYADENYLATION AND TERMINATION, EXPORT FROM THE NUCLEUS TO THE CYTOSOL, INITIATION OF PROTEIN SYNTHESIS (TRANSLATION), COMPLETION OF PROTEIN SYNTHESIS AND PROTEIN FOLDING, and its respective machinery not have to be all in place ? Does that not constitute a interdependent, and irreducible complex system ?

  65. Ehm, the fact that you did not answer my last post is telling.

    Two of the most convincing arguments for Intelligent design

    http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2276-two-of-the-most-convincing-arguments-for-intelligent-design

    The origin of the genetic cipher 1
    1.Triplet codons must be assigned to amino acids to establish a genetic cipher. Nucleic-acid bases and amino acids don’t recognize each other directly, but have to deal via chemical intermediaries ( tRNA’s and Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase ), there is no obvious reason why particular triplets should go with particular amino acids.
    Other translation assignments are conceivable, but whatever cipher is established, the right amino acids must be assigned to permit polypeptide chains, which fold to active funcional proteins. Functional amino acid chains in sequence space are rare. There are two possibilities to explain the correct assignment of the codons to the right amino acids. Chance, and design. Natural selection is not a option at this stage, since DNA replication is not setup at this stage.
    If it were a lucky accident happened by chance, luck would have hit the jackpot trough trial and error amongst 1.5 × 10^84 possible genetic codes . That is the number of atoms in the whole universe. That puts any real possibility of chance providing the feat out of question. Its , using Borel’s law, in the realm of impossibility. Natural selection would have to evaluate roughly 10^55 codes per second to find the one that’s universal. Put simply, the chemical lottery lacks the time necessary to find the universal genetic code.
    We have not even considered that there are also over 500 possible amino acids, which would have to be sorted out, to get only 20, and select all L amino and R sugar bases……
    We know that minds do invent languages, codes, translation systems, ciphers, and complex, specified information all the time.
    Put it in other words : The task compares to invent two languages, two alphabets, and a translation system, and the information content of a book ( for example hamlet) being written in english translated to chinese in a extremely sophisticared hardware system.
    The genetic code and its translation system is best explained through the action of a intelligent designer.
    The software and hardware of the cell are irreducibly complex 2
    The cell contains a complex information storage medium through DNA and mRNA.
    The cell has a complex information processing system ( through RNA polymerase, transcription factors , a spliceosome , a ribosome, chaperone enzymes, specialized transport proteins , and ATP
    The cell contains a genetic code which is at or very close to a global optimum for error minimization across plausible parameter space
    The cell stores complex, specified, coded information ( the software )
    The cell has a complex translation system through a universal cipher, which assigns 61 codons (4x4x4=64-3 stop and start=64) to 20 amino acids and permits the translation of the genetic code into functional proteins
    This constitutes a logical structure of information processing : DNA>>RNA>>>Protein, based on software and hardware. Both aspects must be explained.
    There is no reason for information processing machinery to exist without the software, and vice versa.
    Systems of interconnected software and hardware are irreducibly complex.
    A irreducible complex system can not arise in a step wise, evolutionary manner.
    Only minds are capable to conceptualise and implement instructional information control systems transformed into molecular dynamics
    Therefore , a intelligent designer exists.

  66. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 14, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    No, this is a informed inference based on what i DO know.

    It may be what you think you know, but actually it is simply something you have copied from some ignoramus who is trying to blind people with bits of science cribbed from some biology papers.

    And you bring evolution into the game where it does not belong.

    The scientific theory of evolution, does not cover the separate topic of abiogenesis.
    It explains the common descent of life from LUCA, with the tree of life branching as natural selection eliminates organisms which do not compete or fit their current environment.

    The genetic code and translation machinery had to be in place BEFORE life began, since life depends on dna replication, transcription, and translation.

    As anyone with any understanding of the science or genetics knows, NONE of the theories of abiogenesis, claim that early replication started with DNA.

    I can’t imagine it, because the odds are too big. Let me explain.

    You have just explained that you can’t imagine how it happened, because you have done no research into the science of the subject, and have no idea what you are talking about!

    “I have no idea how this works, so the magic fairies did it!”, is not a scientific explanation!

  67. “The scientific evidence points to the evolution of the universe according to the laws of physics.”

    Are the laws of nature merely a subset of the laws of physics? What is a good, even if overly simplistic, description of the laws governing reality?

    I’ve been using “laws of nature” in that generic sense, but perhaps there’s another albeit similar phrase to describe something more powerful and magnificent than a supernatural god whose purpose is to be the creator of a reality in which humans are paramount.

  68. How and where does “I believe that god exists but it ain’t what religion based on the supernatural makes it out to be” fit into the scheme of things?

  69. toroid
    Jan 20, 2016 at 10:51 am

    How and where does “I believe that god exists but it ain’t what religion based on the supernatural makes it out to be” fit into the scheme of things?

    Probably under the category “Deism”!

  70. Hmmm…

    Deism still calls for an indifferent non-supernatural creator. It stems from free-thinking ideas as they first broke away from religion. A deistic god is, ‘er, probably not impossible, but is very improbable.

    Reality probably exists; but a deity probably doesn’t.

    Oh dear, what can the matter be? It’s only a matter of time.

  71. As anyone with any understanding of the science or genetics knows,
    NONE of the theories of abiogenesis, claim that early replication
    started with DNA.

    aham…

    it seems you have not read carefully my second argument.

    All cellular functions are irreducibly complex 3

    http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2179-the-cell-is-a-interdependent-irreducible-complex-system

    chemist Wilhelm Huck, professor at Radboud University Nijmegen 5
    A working cell is more than the sum of its parts. “A functioning cell must be entirely correct at once, in all its complexity,”

    Paul Davies, the fifth miracle page 53:
    Pluck the DNA from a living cell and it would be stranded, unable to carry out its familiar role. Only within the context of a highly specific molecular milieu will a given molecule play its role in life. To function properly, DNA must be part of a large team, with each molecule executing its assigned task alongside the others in a cooperative manner. Acknowledging the interdependability of the component molecules within a living organism immediately presents us with a stark philosophical puzzle. If everything needs everything else, how did the community of molecules ever arise in the first place? Since most large molecules needed for life are produced only by living organisms, and are not found outside the cell, how did they come to exist originally, without the help of a meddling scientist? Could we seriously expect a Miller-Urey type of soup to make them all at once, given the hit-and-miss nature of its chemistry?

    Being part of a large team,cooperative manner,interdependability,everything needs everything else, are just other words for irreducibility and interdependence.

    For a nonliving system, questions about irreducible complexity are even more challenging for a totally natural non-design scenario, because natural selection — which is the main mechanism of Darwinian evolution — cannot exist until a system can reproduce. For an origin of life we can think about the minimal complexity that would be required for reproduction and other basic life-functions. Most scientists think this would require hundreds of biomolecular parts, not just the five parts in a simple mousetrap or in my imaginary LMNOP system. And current science has no plausible theories to explain how the minimal complexity required for life (and the beginning of biological natural selection) could have been produced by natural process before the beginning of biological natural selection.

  72. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    As anyone with any understanding of the science or genetics knows,
    NONE of the theories of abiogenesis, claim that early replication started with DNA.

    aham… it seems you have not read carefully my second argument.

    Not at all! I have read the scientific work on abiogenesis, so I read your argument and dismissed it as unsupported asserted nonsense, made up by ignoramuses who do not even know that DNA evolved later!!

    All cellular functions are irreducibly complex 3

    This is rubbish as far as the first replicators are concerned.
    The only “irreducible” factor, is the dogmatic ignorant assertions of the incredulous biology illiterates, who have no understanding of ecology or how life processes work!

    for a totally natural non-design scenario, because natural selection — which is the main mechanism of Darwinian evolution — cannot exist until a system can reproduce. For an origin of life we can think about the minimal complexity that would be required for reproduction and other basic life-functions.

    The scientific experiments indicate that the first replicators start with minimal complexity and simply reproduce. Complexity then builds over geological time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg

    Most scientists think this would require hundreds of biomolecular parts,

    Most scientists studying abiogenesis think nothing of the kind. Most biologists and all reputable scientific bodies, think that modern life-forms have built up complexity over billions of years. – particularly in the last half billion years.

  73. made up by ignoramuses who do not even know that DNA evolved later!!

    Of course. Haha.

    http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2028-origin-of-the-dna-double-helix

    Thymine

    DNA can only be replicated in the presence of specific enzymes (described below ) which can only be manufactured by the already existing DNA. Each is absolutely essential for the other, and both must be present for the DNA to multiply. Therefore, DNA has to have been in existence in the beginning for life to be controlled by DNA. Scott M. Huse, “The Collapse of Evolution”, Baker Book House: Grand Rapids (Michigan), 1983 p:93-94

    Thymidylate synthases (Thy) are key enzymes in the synthesis of deoxythymidylate, 1 of the 4 building blocks of DNA. As such, they are essential for all DNA-based forms of life and therefore implicated in the hypothesized transition from RNA genomes to DNA genomes. Two unrelated Thy enzymes, ThyA and ThyX, are known to catalyze the same biochemical reaction. 7

    Thymidylate synthase (Thy) is a fundamental enzyme in DNA synthesis because it catalyzes the formation of deoxythymidine 5′-monophosphate (dTMP) from deoxyuridine 5′-monophosphate (dUMP). For decades, only one family of thymidylate synthase enzymes was known, and its presence was considered necessary to maintain all DNA-based forms of life. Then, a gene encoding an alternative enzyme was discovered and characterized , and the novel enzyme was named ThyX, whereas the other enzyme was renamed ThyA. Even though both reactions accomplish the same key step, the reaction mechanisms, or steps, catalyzed by the FDTS and TS enzymes are structurally different. The 2 enzymes, ThyA and ThyX, were found to have distinctly different sequences and structures, thus alluding to independent origins.

    Thats interesting, as we find two distinct enzymes with two different sequences and structures synthesizing the same reaction, thus being a example of convergence right in the beginning. How remote was the chance for this to happen by natural means , considering, that convergence does not favour naturalistic explanations ?

    as Stephen J.Gould wrote: “…No finale can be specified at the start, none would ever occur a second time in the same way, because any pathway proceeds through thousands of improbable stages. Alter any early event, ever so slightly, and without apparent importance at the time, and evolution cascades into a radically different channel.1

    Stephen J. Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989), 51.

    By virtue of their function and phyletic distribution, Thys are ancient enzymes, implying 1) the likely participation of one or both enzymes during the transition from an RNA world to a DNA world (based on protein catalysts: Joyce 2002) and 2) the probable presence of a gene encoding Thy in the genome of the common ancestors of eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea . Thus, tracing back the pathway of genes encoding ThyA and ThyX may shed light on the actively debated wider issue regarding the origins of viral and cellular DNA

    This brings us to the same problem as with Ribonucleotide Reductase enzymes (RNR), which is the classic chicken and egg, catch22 situation. ThyA and ThyX enzymes are required to make DNA. DNA is however required to make these enzymes. What came first ?? We can conclude with high certainty that this enzyme buries any RNA world fantasies, and any possibility of transition from RNA to DNA world scenarios, since both had to come into existence at the same time.
    Ribonucleotide reductase

    This is one of the most essential enzymes of life

    Ribonucleotide reduction is the only pathway for de novo synthesis of deoxyribonucleotides in extant organisms. This chemically demanding reaction is catalyzed by ribonucleotide reductase (RNR). The mechanism has been deemed unlikely to be catalyzed by a ribozyme, creating an enigma regarding how the building blocks for DNA were synthesized at the transition from RNA to DNA-encoded genomes.

    Biosynthesis DNA is made from RNA. The deoxynucleotides are made from nucleotides with ribonucleotide reductases (RNR’s), producing uracil-DNA or u-DNA. The uracil is then converted to thymine by adding a methyl group, making thymine-DNA or t-DNA, the kind that is actually used.

    The reaction catalyzed by RNR is strictly conserved in all living organisms. Furthermore RNR plays a critical role in regulating the total rate of DNA synthesis so that DNA to cell mass is maintained at a constant ratio during cell division and DNA repair. A somewhat unusual feature of the RNR enzyme is that it catalyzes a reaction that proceeds via a free radical mechanism of action.The substrates for RNR are ADP, GDP, CDP and UDP. dTDP (deoxythymidine diphosphate) is synthesized by another enzyme (thymidylate kinase) from dTMP (deoxythymidine monophosphate).

    The iron-dependent enzyme, ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), is essential for DNA synthesis.

    RNRs provide an essential link between the RNA and DNA world.

    That brings us to the classic chicken and egg, catch22 situation. RNR enzymes are required to make DNA. DNA is however required to make RNR enzymes. What came first ?? We can conclude with high certainty that this enzyme buries any RNA world fantasies, and any possibility of transition from RNA to DNA world scenarios.

  74. Deism is probably the most obvious reply to the question I asked but it is dated and nowadays in the dustbin.

    Today, any view of a non-supernatural god must turn atheism on its head.

    A non-supernatural limitless set of natural laws is precisely what Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss describe as the reason they reject believe in all supernatural gods.

    Intead of the negativity atheism presents as the alternative, it’s just a reasonable to co-opt the word god to describe what does exist. That’s an interpretation that doesn’t have a great following but does describe the limitless, yet not infinite reality that appears to exist.

    The problem with posting this position on RDF is that this is an advocacy site. Does any reader know of a site that covers the same areas of science and religion as this site but doesn’t advocate either POV?

  75. Does any reader know of a site that covers the same areas of science and religion as this site but doesn’t advocate either POV?

    Google for Utopia…

    Or find Spock’s Star Trek Facebook page. What you seek, that has no POV, cannot exist.

  76. What about pantheism? All is god, and god is all. I am the eggman, goo goo goo choo….
    Not to be confused with pantyism, which involves a possibly unwholesome interest in ladies underwear.

  77. Ah, yes, nail-on-the-head: just as starting a war is recognised as the greatest of war crimes, as it enables all the others, so god doing the “freedom to sin” option has to be the greatest of all spiritual crimes, therefore to hell with god, it’s all his fucking fault. I’m with Stephen Fry on this one (what would you say to god?).

    At least, if you believe any of those old writings. Alternatively, it’s all made up, and god’s no worse than Moriarty.

  78. Otangelo and Alan4 have been chewing over what I like to think of as the bootstrapping problem. Maybe somewhere it’s been properly defined using this term, but anyway, the issue is primarily a failure of imagination. Looking at iPhones and the internet today, it’s well nigh impossible to imagine how the most primitive of digital devices ever got built – great hulking dinosaurs with binary digits the size of your fingernail or bigger – and what they could have been used for. Why, the entire internet and all the world’s gadgets must have come into being at once, as no single part is any use without all the others. Explain an iPhone, without reference to Alan Turing, if you can. God wants us to share cat videos?

    An oily bubble gives an example of a rudimentary kind of cell, a sealed off environment where some chemistry can go on more independently of the surrounding ocean, or pond. There’s no specific single step that’s impossible, if you give it enough time, along many possible routes to produce some kind of primitive chemical replicators, molecules that, in a suitable environment, have the chemical behaviour that combines with simpler molecules to make more of themselves. Now, I don’t KNOW this, but it seems reasonably plausible, given what little chemistry I do know, and the known presence of reasonably complex “organic” (carbon chain) molecules in comets, that the long hard road from chemistry to bio-chemistry took place over the nearly ten billion years before the earth was even formed, and that once a certain level of complex chemistry had developed — should I say evolved? — it would suddenly blossom into the enormously complexity required for assemblies of molecules to ask such questions. It’s fairly clear how malleable is living material, the evolution of all species on earth over a period of 3 or 4 billion years shows that. So, maybe it took 2 or 3 times longer to get to the level of the first RNA replicators, from the basic building blocks already self-assembled in comets. Nothing impossible, no show-stopper, just a limit to how well we can imagine. That we can’t reconstruct the entire sequence is unsurprising, as intermediate steps would likely have vanished along the way, consumed — eaten — by later more successful replicators. The staggering complexity of cells, nuclei, DNA and RNA, proteins made from amino acids assembled in sequence looks to me less like a Grand Design, and more like a little-added-to-a-little, each time with the catastrophic failures eliminated, and whatever isn’t eliminated goes on to set the stage for the next round. Like large long-lived software systems — the internet included — it’s not been designed, it’s just growed.

    I suppose I’m trashing the “argument from incredulity”, which seems to be the weakest link, along with “irreducible complexity”. Neither are valid for iPhones and internet, and even less so for the amazing story of matter coming to life. Believe a Creator set the ball rolling, or invented the laws, or is actively imagining the whole thing, if that pleases you, but don’t claim you know enough to know for certain that atoms obeying simple laws can’t do what we see around us, given all the time and all the atoms in the universe.

  79. Otangelo.

    Your sources of information of the matter of abiogenesis are antique in science development terms.

    Auto catalytic chemistry and its evolution into scenarios like RNA world then the development of replicating lipid pouches and the crisper definition and reproductive efficiencies of DNA make a nonsense of the claimed brickwall of notional irreducible complexity. The crashing error made by the religious is in imagining that current things are the way things are meant to be, designed to function that way.

    This mindset impoverishes the religious imagination to see how each evolved attribute better adapts the organism to a topical (and ever changing environment, if only through the evolution of other organisms). No organism is done evolving, and the reason irreducible complexity will never be a scientific theory is that we can never be sure that a no longer visible bridge state may have existed that that took advantage of the “seemingly pointless half-made condition”.

    Indeed, every example of “irreducible complexity” has become a source of discovery of evolutionary richness (from the crass example of the eye to the more subtle example of the flagellum).

    As we have only just demonstrated in the lab, even lipid pouches (quite empty) may be got to reproduce.

    Read the full exciting story in Nick Lane’s The Vital Question.

    Getting to Prokaryote life from the chemistry of rocks, water and geothermal heat looks to be really quite straight forward.

    Its the next stage from prokaryote to eukaryote that has some mysteries to it.

    If you asked questions there you might cause more of a stir. As it is you are well behind the curve on this.

  80. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 20, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    made up by ignoramuses who do not even know that DNA evolved later!!

    Of course. Haha.

    Thymine -DNA can only be replicated

    We know modern DNA based organisms are complex, just as modern jet aircraft are complex with pressurised cabins and electrical systems.
    That does not mean that modern aircraft did not evolve in small steps, from kites and the Wright Brothers early experimental prototypes!

    What part of: “DNA was not involved in early lipid replicators, but evolved later“, do you still have difficulty in understanding, AFTER I provided an explanatory video from a leading geneticist?

  81. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 20, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Stephen J. Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1989), 51.

    Perhaps you would gain a better understanding of evolutionary biology, if you actually read the works of scientists, rather than cutting and pasting misleading out of context quote mines, from ignoramuses who just cherry-pick quote mines to try to produce dishonest support for their incredulous preconceptions, when the writings by scientists on their work actually supports and explains evolutionary theory.
    The Quote Mine Project – Or, Lies, Damned Lies and Quote Mines

  82. OHooligan
    Jan 21, 2016 at 2:08 am

    I suppose I’m trashing the “argument from incredulity”, which seems to be the weakest link, along with “irreducible complexity”. Neither are valid for iPhones and internet, and even less so for the amazing story of matter coming to life.

    The problem with trying to debate with “cut and paste pseudo-science posters”, Is that not only do they not understand the “blind-them-with(pseudo)science” they are posting, but they do not understand the scientific replies either!
    Therefore any science in the replies from real scientists, which cannot be answered by reading from the script on the pseudo-science website, is simply ignored as beyond the understanding of the poster, while repetitive nonsense, quote-mining etc. from pseudo-authorities, is reasserted by cutting and pasting!

    That is frequently the nature of fallacious arguments from incredulity, which simply illustrate a lack of understanding of the subject.

  83. Otangelo Grasso
    Jan 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    reasonandscience.heavenforum.

    @link – Rational inquiry based on scientific evidence leads to God » Intelligent Design » Irreducible complexity

    I think this clearly explains – despite the assertions of “rationality” (as a badge of pseudo-authority, rather than as a deductive process), and claims to be presenting science, that the obfuscating content of this pseudo-science site, starts with theological preconceptions, and then argues in circles!

  84. Yeah, I guess so, but what twiikeri wrote makes sense:

    “…in Finland the polls show that only half of Finnish people believe in a deity, and half don’t. Still, only 21% say they’re atheist.

    I can understand why the religious find the word atheist negative, but why do the non-religious?”

    “What sort of explanations have you heard? Any theories on this one?”

    My interpretation may turn out to be typical of the path many non-religious people who don’t give a sh-t about fighting over the politics of advocacy atheism choose to follow. I sure ain’t nothing more than a 2 ( or 1) trick pony.

    I’ll never know though, ’cause I’m out of time, being essentially a 20th Century man.

    The end of nothing is a state (of being) I probably passed through. Y’all?

    “The end of everything (a state of being) is the beginning of nothing.” No?

    But the beat goes on…

  85. Dawkins and Krauss have stated innumerable times what they and others have observed through scientific observations of the laws of physics and nature.

    Magnificient work which has resulted in the beginning of human understanding of reality.

    There’s much more to come, but a glimmer has begun to appear of a reality that is as magnificent as, and more powerful than, any god based on beliefs in a hunan centured supernatural male who directs things about.

    Have you ever thought about getting on the Cowspiracy bandwagon?

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