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  #1    
Old April 10th, 2013, 08:12 PM
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Not so much about the value of atheism vs. religion, but what does it mean to you? For those of you who are religious, how have you experienced it and how did it make you react? How did you come up with your understanding of atheism (if you have or even if it's unsure) and how does this fit in with your faith?

For those of you who are atheist, how does it feel with respect to your community? What does it mean to your identity, and how do you reconcile that with friends or peers who have faith? How does this affect your worldview?

Let's take atheism as any form of godlessness, or lack of faith. I don't mean it that way, but that's already pretty charged language, so I will leave it to you guys to interpret it however you will.

To help kick this off let me explain a bit of myself. I am atheist in the very fact that I am godless. My parents were born in the People's Republic of China, and under communism, the state enforced atheism. So for them it wasn't that "god doesn't exist!" but quite simply that god was not relevant/did not exist in their lives. Evidently I was raised without god. Religion and I never got along, until one day I was about to physically express my anger/betrayal at a "friend" of mine. A gentleman suggested I walk with him, and he helped calm me down and figure out how I should move on with my life and make myself stronger. He was a Christian. He took the time to introduce me to Jesus Christ but I respectfully declined and we had a good laugh about that. From that day on religion and I get along very well.

So that is describing my experience of reconciling atheism with religion, but note that I didn't even describe what my "atheism/agnosticism" actually is. I feel that there is a lot of discussion that can come out of this, and it evidently won't fit into one post. So let's discuss about anything you feel is related - even if you don't have a personal experience, you have perspectives and they must've come from somewhere. I hope this discussion can lead to a better understanding between everybody along the continuum of faith.
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Old April 10th, 2013, 08:21 PM
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Let's put it this way - leave me alone and I like you :)

Let me believe in my crazy stuff, and guys let's leave their asses to burn in hell if they want.

Hell, even the Bible says that STOP THIS FIGHTING. It says, "who cares if they won't listen? I'm God, and I'll change them whenever I feel like it. You're just a speck, and I could wipe you out if I even felt so.

What you're supposed to do, is to tell them about me. There. I let you do something. Now don't do what I know you can't ever accomplish. I know you love those people, but you are just too weak to do such things. Only I am powerful enough to convince people of what they can't confirm."

And furthermore, the Bible states that "Everyone has free will. Do whatever you want, but know that you'll have to face me with the bad stuff you did one day."

My point is - leave people alone. We all believe in crazy stuff, but we can only see other's crazy stuff.

Let me ask you. Religious people - have you seen God? No? Then shut up.

Atheists - have you seen the absence of God? Have you literally searched every corner of the Universe, in every dimension, in every corner of infinity? No? Then shut up.

Therefore, just leave people alone. We all believe crazy things. Even if some ideas are actually true, they are crazy until they are proven. So wait.
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Old April 10th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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This is a great topic!

Though I am agnostic, I love seeing how religion has effected the lives of others. I especially love hearing about the ideologies of Atheists, since the subject of Atheism is so broad. I don't have a lot to say myself, but I'll subscribe and check up on this thread often.
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Old April 10th, 2013, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by cfarm99 View Post
I'm pretty sure that if this doesn't get closed, it's going to cause a pretty enormous argument. Lol.
This thread is meant to promote openness and understanding. Kind of like what the Gay Pride parade tries but fails at in my opinion<-- this will not be an unabashed promotion of a narrow part of atheism at the expense of other beliefs and religions. As the starter of the thread, I will try to encourage discussion and as a result dissuade arguments that I believe to narrow discussion. And I'm a pretty open guy, plus we have moderators as well. So let's all be optimistic and hopefully nobody comes and hijacks it D=

Edit: I admit this might be pushing the envelope a little, but often that's the only way creating openness and understanding. Because we're starting from a point of not-so-much-understanding to get to understanding. So naturally one would doubt how innocent this thread will be, but let's have some faith
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Old April 10th, 2013, 09:54 PM
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When I was younger (like mid-teen years) and still actively going to church, it was a bit off-putting to find out if someone was an atheist, but it didn't mean I was gonna shun them or anything. Back then, I found it a bit strange, but I've grown up in the Bible Belt, so I think it's only natural I felt that way. Nowadays, I'm a bit disconnected from my religion and especially from church, and it's a bit more...idk the word for it. Comforting...? It just puts me at more ease when someone says they're an atheist and if someone's a Christian, I kinda just think "o.........." and feel like I have to watch myself around them. Basically, how I reacted back in my teen years has flip-flopped with now. But I generally don't care what someone believes in, as long as it's not being forced on me. I'm not gonna tell someone they're wrong about anything. It's not my place, it'd be rude, and I wouldn't want someone doing that to me. The most it's gonna affect me is how I talk in front of them, as I wouldn't want to say anything offensive to a certain religion.

I know that kinda got off the atheism track and more into general religions, but oh well haha. They kind of run together for me anyway, since like I said, I don't really care what someone believes in.

@BlahISuck: Don't mind some random person's negative opinion of this thread. I think it's a fine topic. :)
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Old April 10th, 2013, 10:37 PM
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I grew up in a family where religion was given no importance whatsoever, and I had all the choice in the world to believe in what I wanted. I chose atheism, because that's what made the most sense to me.

For the longest part of my life, I still wondered about a lot of things about morals and what influence religion had on them, because for me a lot of our behavior could be explained without religion, except for a few blanks I didn't know how to fill, and was actively looking for ways to do so. For instance, for the longest time, I thought that we don't kill each other in our everyday lives because we were conditioned to respect the "Don't kill" commandment. And then I read Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion". You can say all you want about him, and his expertise on religion, but he is an ethologist, an expert on animal behavior, and the point in the book that's relevant in this case was where he talked about kinship in animals (I don't remember the exact words, but it basically means that when there's no actual reason to fight, animals of same species are naturally inclined to live peacefully and help each other out) , which is also a good explanation for the fact that we (and by "we" I mean civilians, soldiers are a different story) not only not kill each other every day, but don't even have the will or urge to do so. To me, it made sense when I read it, so I used it to fill the metaphorical blank.

I personally have a radically negative opinion on all religions, but I'm not looking for fights online or IRL, or preach on the streets, because I don't need to. In my everyday life, faith or the absence of faith, be it mine or anyone else's, does not play any part at all, allowing me to give it very, very little thought and concentrate on things that are more important in my everyday life. In general, I adhere to the "you don't bother me, I don't bother you" principle. Born in Ukraine, I am happy I moved to France when I was a kid, because France is a country where most people don't care about religion or the absence thereof, it has no influence on the daily life, the laws being passed etc. I'm often infuriated when I watch documentaries about Russia (Russia and Ukraine used to be the same country after all, of course I'm interested) where the so-called Russian Orthodox Church is struggling to merge back with the State, and tries to impose its norms on all population (christians, muslims, atheists, adepts of other beliefs) under the pretense that "being Russian is being christian", like the national dress code they tried and fortunately failed to make law (yup, the Church actually wanted to impose a dress code for just going outside!!!) . It still hurts me to see what a lot of my former compatriots have to deal with.

During the course of my life, I became somewhat of a nihilist too. I don't believe I have a purpose in life, I'm merely the consequence of my parents' actions, not to mention that as an atheist I don't believe in an afterlife in any shape or form, so in the grander scheme of things I might as well not have been born at all. But, while it seems depressing at first, I see it under a different, more positive angle: if there's no big cosmic goal for me to go for and no judgment after I die, it means I can set my own goals and only live to achieve them, it actually takes a lot of pressure off . Basically, if I could describe my philosophy in a simple manner, it would be this: I only have two commandments: "Live the life the way it makes the most sense to you" and "Let others do the same".

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Old April 10th, 2013, 11:27 PM
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This is a difficult question to answer, so I'll start with a brief explanation of my own religious views in the hope you can understand where I'm coming from a bit better. I'm the sort of person who identifies as being somewhat spiritual but by no means religious. I believe in a higher power (that I call God, simply because that is the name I have grown up with) and I believe in an afterlife but I don't follow an organised religion and I don't conform to any one religions narrow-minded and self-serving principals. My logic in regards to religions (using Christian terms in this example) is that God didn't write the bible, a bunch of old monks who wanted to perpetuate their own views did. I don't think any person on this Earth can comprehend a higher powers mind because it would be bound to be millions upon millions of times more complex than our own (like comparing an loan ant to a loan human being).

With that out of the way my perspective on atheism... well I have no ill-will towards atheists, agnostics or organised religions as long as they aren't going around starting wars or oppressing people. The thing about atheism is I find it hard to think that one day ceasing to exist in any measure could be a comforting thought and whilst I respect that they don't share my view I find it impossible to understand theirs. I guess I feel that there has to be something next, because I can't fathom the possibility of not existing (that and I feel as though body and soul really are two separate but related entities). My view on the attitudes of all religious groups (including agnostics and atheists) is that we may not understand each other but we are all still equal people entitled to out beliefs. Nobody should try and force their views on another person regardless of what they are.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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Atheism to me is like the word "transparent." I always knew that you could see through stuff, but only once I learned that word was I able to articulate myself better when it came to stuff you could see through. Moreover, I became aware of things being transparent that I wouldn't have thought about before, like air. Same with atheism. It's a word to describe something I could have explained in a lot of words if someone asked me, but that I wouldn't have thought about otherwise.

I don't really consider myself a part of a community since I don't feel like atheism is a reason to bond with people. For me it would be kind of like bonding with people over the fact that we all breathe air and eat food. To be honest, religion has always felt like the outsider. I feel like nearly everyone is atheist, or mostly atheist, since most of our lives are not driven by religion. Like, you're driving to work so you're thinking about work, about the traffic, about what you had for breakfast.

When you think about it, most of our thoughts and actions are based on mundane stuff happening in our lives. Only on certain occasions do we let big ideas guide our thoughts and actions. Like, you might consider yourself a capitalist, but most of the time you're not dealing with money. Unless that's your job, dealing with money. And that's the thing. Most big ideas, most big identities are things that relate to the world and other people. People who identify as teachers are thinking a lot about kids. People who identify as environmentalists are thinking a lot about the objects and materials around them. Artists are looking at everything around them. Religious people... well, you have to be constantly reassuring yourself and reaffirming to yourself that there's something godlike going on around you or your mind will move on to other things and so will your actions. Even people who call themselves religious probably aren't doing that every moment.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 02:51 PM
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I don't personally understand Atheism really. A big part of me feels like they're missing something needed to be a well rounded person. However I do respect people's rights to believe, or not believe, in anything. As a matter of fact, I myself choose what I believe and don't believe, which brings me to how I feel about religion.

Personally, I believe most organized religions are pretty good at missing the point entirely. Most religions forget that the value lies in being a guideline and not a rule or tradition. Rules or traditions, even established in practicality do wear away in the tides of time because they lack the flexibility of a guideline. It is difficult for a rule or tradition to be redefined as a guideline, because there will always be someone unwilling to accept the change that comes with it.

That being said, I believe that most "proper" religion isn't very practical these days. Better if you just select the deity of your choosing, and interpret their teachings as best as you can for yourself, question everything, and think for yourself rather than to blindly follow something you've been told. It's OK to seek advice on how to live your life, but sometimes those giving advice forget that ultimately your life is yours. That is often where organized religion falls into the "good intentions gone bad" trap.

Personally I do have a religion, that I do enjoy and believe in. However I do not practice it in the group sense. I don't go to church or anything like that. I make time for worship when I can, study religious text when I cannot, and live simply by the practical values and guidelines that sets forth when they don't clash with my own.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 09:03 PM
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That being said, I believe that most "proper" religion isn't very practical these days. Better if you just select the deity of your choosing, and interpret their teachings as best as you can for yourself, question everything, and think for yourself rather than to blindly follow something you've been told.
For me atheism isn't missing anything at all. It's doing exactly what you say here but then saying, meh, this isn't working out for me. I don't feel that I click with god - and choosing the deity makes it feel artificial and man-made. I never felt alright in the sermons I attended, because they always had a religious tone to them. No duh, you might say, but it didn't feel honest to be because I guess I was the atheist in the room and wasn't getting message as it was intended XD

I have a gut test that affirms my atheism. Basically I ask myself is there a god? And then I say naaahhhh. I used to argue with myself over this, but all that reasoning has all been distilled to a gut test. For me it's not even that I choose not to believe, it would be more accurate to say that I just don't. God, nor His "place", doesn't exist in my schema of life so nothing feels missing at all. I think I define as atheist in order to be on that continuum with religion - but in reality it's not the presence of god vs. the absence of god, but quite simply "what's god?".

Keep posting what you have, but allow me to ask this to those of you who are religious: how would you respond to a person without a conception of god? I don't mean how would you preach, but how would you try to understand where they're coming from?
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Old April 11th, 2013, 09:51 PM
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Keep posting what you have, but allow me to ask this to those of you who are religious: how would you respond to a person without a conception of god? I don't mean how would you preach, but how would you try to understand where they're coming from?
As I said before, I'm a bit more disconnected with my religion, however I've never really had a hard time understanding where someone is coming from when they don't believe in God. I know I said earlier that it would usually come as surprising due to how and where I was raised, but even still, I understood. There are so many things that point against it, and to be honest with you, this is part of the reason I'm so loose with my religion now. It's hard to find things that tell you that God is real when you have science and other facts shoved in your face, whether you want them or not. It gets tiring, it wears on you, and it makes you question.

That delved off into something else, so I'll stop for now. But tl;dr I've never struggled with understanding someone being atheist. And if I ever did, then I must have forgotten about it, lol.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 10:43 PM
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I guess some background is good. I grew up in a house where everyone was either Christian, or Agnostic/Atheist. My mom was a little Christian, but did everything in her power to make sure that no one influences my views of the world--even those of her own. This then lead to me becoming atheist by the time I was ten, where it does not help much that I hung out with a militant atheist during the summers of the subsequent years to follow. Things happened, and when I was fourteen I became Agnostic-Atheist, and sometime in September I've fallen into my current 'faith' which is Agnostic-Pantheism.

I don't have an issue with atheists... or any kind of faith, or lack of for that matter, as long as it fulfills them and they're not trying to enforce it onto others, or using it to cause some kind of war. I've felt like I can understand why some people find faith, or don't find any faith at all; it's just a matter of what makes sense to you I guess.
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Old April 11th, 2013, 10:45 PM
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I really want to start a thread to discuss religion, I'm not sure if this is the place to debate whether God exists or not, but I doubt it so I'll lay back for now.

Anyways, I am religious. I don't have a problem with Atheism or Atheists at all, as long as they're not the type to flip out when people mention / talk about God. More to that, I am the type who will try to convince you that God exists, but only if I know you well enough and if you agree to even starting said debate.

For example, I was in California in December, visiting my uncle's. My cousin and I were at an Indian New Year's party and came back around 1 AM on the morning on January 1st. We were exhausted from strolling around downtown LA all day, so we got in the Jacuzzi and the situation was so weird that somehow, we reached a point where we started discussing God. He's an Atheist, so I asked him before hand if he was comfortable with me trying to convince him that there is a God, mentioning of course that I was comfortable with the opposite.

What I'm trying to say is that I will only try to convince you of God's existence if we really know each other and if you're comfortable having said discussion.

In turn, I have a very strong hatred towards Atheists who want to convince me that God doesn't exist but flip out when I try to convince them he does. I mean what the hell, hypocrisy should only go so far man. You've taken it too far, too god damn far. And yes this has happened before, sadly. Just makes me lose my faith in humanity ;;
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Old April 12th, 2013, 02:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlahISuck View Post
Keep posting what you have, but allow me to ask this to those of you who are religious: how would you respond to a person without a conception of god? I don't mean how would you preach, but how would you try to understand where they're coming from?
With respect, and hope they can respect my viewpoints as well. While I may not personally understand not believing in a God, I can see why people do so. In the world we live in, it's pretty easy to lose that, especially if one tends to think about it more than they feel the subject. So long as the Atheist doesn't go about trying to disprove God, and the Religious don't go about trying to prove God, I think there's plenty of room for both sides to discuss things.

Besides, you can't prove something to someone if they won't accept it, and this is typically true of people on both sides. Human nature introduces a large number of cognitive biases which act as a mental immune system. This is a fact of psychology.

While I understand where an Atheist is "coming from", I do not understand their arguments. I simply cannot understand the logical processes underlying such a viewpoint when I apply their arguments to my own systems of checks and balances. So it's these matters which I leave to differences in experience, personality and overall temperament of the person in the equation.

Despite all arguments against religion, I've had numerous experiences that pretty well confirm it. Is it exactly as it is written in books? No. I think everyone's religious experiences are mostly different for a reason.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 02:37 PM
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Admittedly, I've had a very adversarial relationship with organized religion. I've always looked at organized religion as being the same as an overbearing parent who refuses to allow their children any leeway when it comes to making choices in their lives. It's always: "do this, or else!"

Being gay, and constantly having to listen to the ignorant ramblings of those who are religious and who are anti-gay, is just another reason this whole organized religion concept is about as attractive as getting a root canal.

I am an atheist because I believe in what I can see with my eyes, hear with my ears, smell with my nose, taste with my tongue and touch with my fingers. It is enough for me that I make of my life what I will, and the only meaning it holds for me is what I make of it. When someone tells me that I should talk with my maker, I tell them that I speak with my parents all the time.

If I start talking with an imaginary being, who cannot be sensed with any of our senses, I fully expect to be locked up in an institution somewhere surrounded with padded walls. Not to mention people looking at me and making coo-coo signs at me.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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If I start talking with an imaginary being, who cannot be sensed with any of our senses, I fully expect to be locked up in an institution somewhere surrounded with padded walls. Not to mention people looking at me and making coo-coo signs at me.
However, you can't say that there isn't one, because you only know what you see.

I believe that there is something that I don't understand, and that is all that God is. The things you don't understand. It's not an imaginary person, nothing like that.

(I just want to make that clear for all of you atheists what God is.)

But since there is so much more that I don't know than I do know, I am fully aware that "God" can control my every move better than I can.

…And starting from there, you can see where the confusion happens. But remember, please, that God is simply what I don't know yet or ever.

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I really want to start a thread to discuss religion, I'm not sure if this is the place to debate whether God exists or not, but I doubt it so I'll lay back for now.

Anyways, I am religious. I don't have a problem with Atheism or Atheists at all, as long as they're not the type to flip out when people mention / talk about God. More to that, I am the type who will try to convince you that God exists, but only if I know you well enough and if you agree to even starting said debate.

For example, I was in California in December, visiting my uncle's. My cousin and I were at an Indian New Year's party and came back around 1 AM on the morning on January 1st. We were exhausted from strolling around downtown LA all day, so we got in the Jacuzzi and the situation was so weird that somehow, we reached a point where we started discussing God. He's an Atheist, so I asked him before hand if he was comfortable with me trying to convince him that there is a God, mentioning of course that I was comfortable with the opposite.

What I'm trying to say is that I will only try to convince you of God's existence if we really know each other and if you're comfortable having said discussion.

In turn, I have a very strong hatred towards Atheists who want to convince me that God doesn't exist but flip out when I try to convince them he does. I mean what the hell, hypocrisy should only go so far man. You've taken it too far, too god damn far. And yes this has happened before, sadly. Just makes me lose my faith in humanity ;;
And on that note, those who deny there being a God, let me ask you this: I accept that I have no proof other than my entire opinion that God exists, thus He does not exist for you. But can you give me your proof other than your entire opinion that God doesn't exist, and thus He does not exist for me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlahISuck View Post
Keep posting what you have, but allow me to ask this to those of you who are religious: how would you respond to a person without a conception of god? I don't mean how would you preach, but how would you try to understand where they're coming from?
I understand, because they are unable to see whatever I see. Thus I respect them, because I don't expect to go up to a blind man who has been blind his whole life, and expect him to know what a color is just by saying that it exists. It is confusing for him, and God is confusing for you. Until the doctors cure his blindness, he will never understand what joy colors are. So in the same idea, until whoever God is to you decides that it is time for you to know what joy God is, you will never understand what God is.
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Last edited by droomph; April 12th, 2013 at 02:49 PM. Reason: Your double post has been automatically merged.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by droomph View Post
And on that note, those who deny there being a God, let me ask you this: I accept that I have no proof other than my entire opinion that God exists, thus He does not exist for you. But can you give me your proof other than your entire opinion that God doesn't exist, and thus He does not exist for me?
I don't know about other godless folk, but the reason I don't believe in a god is that I can't see him, and I'm not about to push myself to find him. If he may exist but I can't understand nor perceive him, then I don't see much reason for him to be relevant, so whether he exists or not isn't as important as the fact that he isn't affecting my life.

There are many things that I cannot explain in my life. But I don't attribute them to god, just like I don't attribute my ex-tormentor to having a mental disorder (even though I would like to and it would make my life have slightly more sense). Some things are incomprehensible but I choose to let them stand and it doesn't bother me too much.

Some of you out here are pretty godless in my books, but you haven't really given yourself a title. Would you identify with deism? It's a belief in god rooted in reason, with a rejection of religious authority and revelation and even prayer. Some of the Founding Fathers held that belief back in the day - but it's largely evolved to atheism now. But I see it on a continuum between Christianity and atheism (it evolved from Christianity), which makes sense to me because I perceive a lot of grey area before god! and no god.

Personally, I've read too much psychology and biochemistry to believe in a soul. You might say that it takes a leap of faith to "believe" that your consciousness = the sum of all your mental activity. I love explaining this bit. While of course I'm taking a leap of faith, that faith involves acknowledging the possibility that your consciousness/soul is an illusion. So to me it's even more suspicious of my spirituality/soul and that makes me happy because I like to give an understanding of the soul as hard a time as possible. It's not that I don't believe in a soul, it's that I don't believe that the soul can be understood, because everything you think occurs in the framework of your consciousness which you cannot perceive independently of itself. Everything you perceive, to me, is an illusion that is processed through the illusion of the mind. So to me the mind is can only be understood subjectively - which frees it from the grasp of any authority, even religion. It's a bit nihilist, but I like it because I'm not cutting myself some slack. I think my personal philosophy involves making as little assumptions as possible, but postmodernism can tell me a thing or two about that and I may be getting ahead of myself now.

As an atheist I do have faith however. I keep faith in people and humanity as well as human nature - because that is predictable enough/explains enough in the world for me. I used to be unable to explain a godless morality, but through my study of philosophy at school, I think I'm starting to understand how morality can occur without a god authority. So people relatively to very godless don't feel like they're missing something because meaning in life, spirituality, and faith occurs in other ways.

I may be using the word "faith" incorrectly, or misunderstanding my "godless faith" as a parallel to faith in religion. What does faith mean in a religious context? Once in understand that I might be able to say something more meaningful about my own "faith". XD
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Old April 12th, 2013, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by droomph View Post
However, you can't say that there isn't one, because you only know what you see.
No, but then, neither do I spend time contemplating things that I can't prove, especially since proving a negative is impossible. It's not possible to prove that a god does not exist, but it conceivably could be possible to prove that a god does exist. This is why I generally laugh when people tell me to prove that god does not exists. I can't do that any more than I can prove that unicorns don't exist, or that elves don't exist, or that a money tree doesn't exist.

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Originally Posted by droomph View Post
I believe that there is something that I don't understand, and that is all that God is. The things you don't understand. It's not an imaginary person, nothing like that.
You have to admit, though, that your understanding of what "God" is is not a universal one. Others may in fact understand "God" to be an entity, especially those who claim to interpret God's will to condemn others for who they are, be they black, gay, or whatever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by droomph View Post
(I just want to make that clear for all of you atheists what God is.)
You offer one opinion of what "God" is. It is, by no means, a universally shared opinion by religious people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by droomph View Post
And on that note, those who deny there being a God, let me ask you this: I accept that I have no proof other than my entire opinion that God exists, thus He does not exist for you. But can you give me your proof other than your entire opinion that God doesn't exist, and thus He does not exist for me?
As I explained, proving a negative is impossible. It can't be done. I can't prove to you that a god does not exist any more than you can prove to me that unicorns don't exist.

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Originally Posted by droomph View Post
I understand, because they are unable to see whatever I see. Thus I respect them, because I don't expect to go up to a blind man who has been blind his whole life, and expect him to know what a color is just by saying that it exists. It is confusing for him, and God is confusing for you. Until the doctors cure his blindness, he will never understand what joy colors are. So in the same idea, until whoever God is to you decides that it is time for you to know what joy God is, you will never understand what God is.
"God" is a concept used to explain things that people do not understand (and a poor, lazy explanation at that), but it also is a tool used by the so called religious leaders to control, dominate and condemn others, and as a means to force people to conform to a certain moral code. When describing God, I think Richard Dawkins said it best:

Quote:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay_37040 View Post
You have to admit, though, that your understanding of what "God" is is not a universal one. Others may in fact understand "God" to be an entity, especially those who claim to interpret God's will to condemn others for who they are, be they black, gay, or whatever.
My dad has an interesting conception of "god" - which is the sum total of everything in the universe. I think he's trying too hard >.< but at least it's a start XD. I think most people posting here are coming from a Christian perspective though, so I can let his generalization slide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay_37040 View Post
"God" is a concept used to explain things that people do not understand (and a poor, lazy explanation at that), but it also is a tool used by the so called religious leaders to control, dominate and condemn others, and as a means to force people to conform to a certain moral code.
While this has some truth and evidence, it's also clear that many of the posters here do not subscribe to organized religion. Though they believe in "god", they would still reject its historical use by leaders to increase their power.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 04:41 PM
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While this has some truth and evidence, it's also clear that many of the posters here do not subscribe to organized religion. Though they believe in "god", they would still reject its historical use by leaders to increase their power.
Though if you were to ask these people, they would probably self-identify as being Christian, or Muslim, or Jewish. So even if most would not self-identify as being a Catholic, or Protestant, or Baptist let's say, they would still consider themselves Christians, just Christians not belonging to any particular denomination.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by BlahISuck View Post
I don't know about other godless folk, but the reason I don't believe in a god is that I can't see him, and I'm not about to push myself to find him. If he may exist but I can't understand nor perceive him, then I don't see much reason for him to be relevant, so whether he exists or not isn't as important as the fact that he isn't affecting my life.

There are many things that I cannot explain in my life. But I don't attribute them to god, just like I don't attribute my ex-tormentor to having a mental disorder (even though I would like to and it would make my life have slightly more sense). Some things are incomprehensible but I choose to let them stand and it doesn't bother me too much.

Some of you out here are pretty godless in my books, but you haven't really given yourself a title. Would you identify with deism? It's a belief in god rooted in reason, with a rejection of religious authority and revelation and even prayer. Some of the Founding Fathers held that belief back in the day - but it's largely evolved to atheism now. But I see it on a continuum between Christianity and atheism (it evolved from Christianity), which makes sense to me because I perceive a lot of grey area before god! and no god.

Personally, I've read too much psychology and biochemistry to believe in a soul. You might say that it takes a leap of faith to "believe" that your consciousness = the sum of all your mental activity. I love explaining this bit. While of course I'm taking a leap of faith, that faith involves acknowledging the possibility that your consciousness/soul is an illusion. So to me it's even more suspicious of my spirituality/soul and that makes me happy because I like to give an understanding of the soul as hard a time as possible. It's not that I don't believe in a soul, it's that I don't believe that the soul can be understood, because everything you think occurs in the framework of your consciousness which you cannot perceive independently of itself. Everything you perceive, to me, is an illusion that is processed through the illusion of the mind. So to me the mind is can only be understood subjectively - which frees it from the grasp of any authority, even religion. It's a bit nihilist, but I like it because I'm not cutting myself some slack. I think my personal philosophy involves making as little assumptions as possible, but postmodernism can tell me a thing or two about that and I may be getting ahead of myself now.

As an atheist I do have faith however. I keep faith in people and humanity as well as human nature - because that is predictable enough/explains enough in the world for me. I used to be unable to explain a godless morality, but through my study of philosophy at school, I think I'm starting to understand how morality can occur without a god authority. So people relatively to very godless don't feel like they're missing something because meaning in life, spirituality, and faith occurs in other ways.

I may be using the word "faith" incorrectly, or misunderstanding my "godless faith" as a parallel to faith in religion. What does faith mean in a religious context? Once in understand that I might be able to say something more meaningful about my own "faith". XD
That's what I've been saying. You haven't seen a God, and I'm not about to describe to you what a God is, because you need to see it like you see a color.
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Originally Posted by Jay_37040 View Post
No, but then, neither do I spend time contemplating things that I can't prove, especially since proving a negative is impossible. It's not possible to prove that a god does not exist, but it conceivably could be possible to prove that a god does exist. This is why I generally laugh when people tell me to prove that god does not exists. I can't do that any more than I can prove that unicorns don't exist, or that elves don't exist, or that a money tree doesn't exist.
Then I laugh at you, because I can't do any more to prove what's true to me.

That's what faith is - I have hope for the future. I want there to be a unicorn. I want there to be a money tree. Those things aren't true, but they might be, and I imagine the day they come. There has to be something, why not hope for the future? That's what makes us happy. You don't believe me? Remember when you got to order something you've always wanted to come to you? Were you more happy after it came, or the days leading up to the day you got it? To get happiness is to believe that something is coming. I'm sorry for being happy, I'll try to be miserable like I was, before I found something to make me happy.

You have no right to infringe on my happiness, and I have no right to infringe on your happiness. Therefore, leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone.

You are missing out on such a truth, but I don't blame you for that. It's rather the pride and arrogance in how you present yourself that I blame you.

You and I do not know everything, and you know that as well as I do. Therefore it is impossible to prove objectively that your existence is any more true than my delusions.
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Originally Posted by Jay_37040 View Post
You have to admit, though, that your understanding of what "God" is is not a universal one. Others may in fact understand "God" to be an entity, especially those who claim to interpret God's will to condemn others for who they are, be they black, gay, or whatever.

You offer one opinion of what "God" is. It is, by no means, a universally shared opinion by religious people.
Then those people are wrong. Those people are the people that I don't like either, but I want you all to know that despising religious people is unfair to the rest of us who don't dominate others.

Please read these passages, and see:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 1
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The foundation of any "righteous" believer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 1
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
A common misunderstanding - we do not, can not, and should not hate them, but they are that way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 1
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
However, this doesn't mean we want you dead. In fact, we want you alive and well and with us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 2
1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
Use this verse against those who hurt you "in the name of God" (eg gay bash, tell you that you're going to hell).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 2
6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
This applies to every human being, Christian or atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, or in fact, any religion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 2
8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
This also applies to every human being, Christian or atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, or in fact, any religion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 2
9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 2
10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
"The Jews have been chosen; but you can get it like they do if you want."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 2
11 For God does not show favoritism.
God doesn't care who you are, he just wants you to be nice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romans 14
The Weak and the Strong

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
What I do not know is much greater than me - I do not know many things. I therefore fear the unknown, but I am at the same time curious. I search into the unknown, and hope.

Faith is hope. Faith has nothing to do with anything objective. If you want to know why we believe in these delusions, it is because we have hope. We can't force you to have hope, because that would be against your will, and that would be against our will. Therefore, believe whatever you want - however, you should know to have faith in the inevitable, the unknown that will soon reveal itself.

Even science has the same approach; have faith in the unknown, and find out what's there.

I don't know why you guys hate all of us so much automatically, especially when we aren't supposed to even be rude to you. What did I ever do to you? What did we cause that you didn't cause back to us?

There are rude people in every group - every race and ethnicity has its fair share of crude and uncivilized people; every faith has its extremists that annoy all of us.

For Christians, it is the ones who control. Read the passages from Romans - Paul clearly tells us that being who you are is the wrong way to do things, and you will be judged as much as the one you judged. You ruin everything for us who have no reason to judge, and I feel bad for myself that I have to be in the same group as you.

For atheists, it's people like you. You condemn all of us, even when you have the same faults in your logic as we do. You think you know everything just by the principle on which you live, yet you clearly do not. If I asked you what exactly your genome was, would you be able to answer immediately? The reasonability of the question is not relevant - the truth is, you know as much as we dumb people who believe in imaginary beings do. You are just as illiterate in the Truth as me, you know no more than anyone else. Take that in mind, and set out on your journey of conversion.

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Originally Posted by Jay_37040 View Post
Though if you were to ask these people, they would probably self-identify as being Christian, or Muslim, or Jewish. So even if most would not self-identify as being a Catholic, or Protestant, or Baptist let's say, they would still consider themselves Christians, just Christians not belonging to any particular denomination.
Names aren't important compared to what you believe in.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:16 PM
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Okay we're not going to go into scripture here. This was never the intention, explicit or implicit, that I had when I outlined the first post. This is about the perception of atheism vis a vis religion, not to prove one vs. the other. We're here to solve misunderstandings, not to preach. I don't want you to delete your post, but a decent chunk of the god! to no god spectrum rejects any form of religious authority, and that includes the bible.

Those of us who don't abide by the book, even if we believe in god, would not appreciate you quoting passages out of it. It applies more to you than us and we don't take it as a cause for anything. It doesn't mean that you /can't/ argue from scripture, just that there are more relevant ways of communicating your message to us who do not accept/understand it. And a major part of your message is how you present it to us. I want to put it nicely - there's no way you can convince anybody through scripture without explaining first why somebody should be convinced through scripture.

And you make plenty of claims about how everybody has the same illiteracy to truth - I will address that in due time.

And while I don't know my genome, if I had enough money/time/my own lab I could probably get it to you in a 1.4 mb long text file. I made up the number, but we can count the AGCT's in DNA. It wouldn't make any sense to you, and it wouldn't make any sense to me either - so I'd like to have a sample of your DNA so we can compare them side by side. And then we can take a sample of everybody here on PC, and compare those side by side. I have a few friends in computer science who could probably write us a program that shows the relative abundance of certain sequences.

And I can tell you the expression of my genome as a phenotype. I have brown eyes and black hair. I am 5'8" - although my diet and lack of exercise may have made me shorter than my genetic potential. I have a congenital heart condition that was decided by my genome. I can tell so much about myself just from observation - and there is so much more that we don't know. We know where to find it, we know generally how to understand it - it just takes time and effort to understand every specific thing. I could also tell you that I'm probably not immune to HIV because I'm not North European. Even things like that can be described in your genome.

I'm afraid I may have to talk about my own atheism as a response to challenge to our ideas.

I was going through the verses to see what I disagree with, and comment on them individually. I'd much rather go with a summary, seeing that is more useful and easier to understand.

Firstly, the word of God as expressed in scripture is not the liberal, treat everybody with equal dignity, essentially hippy that we'd all like Him to be. Apparently atheist and godless types have been "given over" to a "depraved mind". I am not even going to argue with this, it speaks for itself. God also selects the Jews as his chosen people, and they get the closed beta of salvation. Why. In this Western culture of liberalism, where all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, such language would be unacceptable and racist.

Secondly, do not assume that you are nice and respectful because you are reading from authority and your religious doctrines. If anything, it tells us that you think only in the framework that you are taught, and know only "respect" from a narrow perspective - which isn't respect at all.

Quote:
A common misunderstanding - we do not, can not, and should not hate them, but they are that way.
It doesn't matter what you want. I don't like this way of thinking, because it's analogous to "oh hey we shouldn't hate gay people, but they are that way" ... like it's a good thing? Your language is paternalistic, you are talking down to us people who are "missing" something. Many of us, religious or not, do not care what other people, nor God, want for us without thinking about it critically. However you exhort us to read these passages and then what - accept it as the word of God or to consider it rationally as we see fit? True respect requires an acceptance of other perspectives, even entire frameworks in which deference to holy scripture is irrelevant.

So let's begin that respect by comparing side by side some parallels in our thought systems so we can find some common ground. Because right now all we're doing is posting irrelevant cluster***ks that do not forward our understanding in any way. Boom - step 1. Religious or not, all of us desire to forward our understanding - there's some common ground. This is why we believe what we believe in, or rather do what we do, as we haven't established what faith is yet. Hence my next question: what is faith to you?
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Old April 12th, 2013, 05:51 PM
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That's what I've been saying. You haven't seen a God, and I'm not about to describe to you what a God is, because you need to see it like you see a color.Then I laugh at you, because I can't do any more to prove what's true to me.
I'm colour blind.

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You are missing out on such a truth, but I don't blame you for that. It's rather the pride and arrogance in how you present yourself that I blame you.
So many of the truths that we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view (okay, I couldn't resist!). Truth is subjective. It is not universal. My truth may not be your truth, but that does not make one more valid than the other. Where I have to object, however, is when one person, or a group of people, attempt to force their truths on others. That crosses a line with me that should never be crossed. But of course, some just can't resist the temptation.

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Originally Posted by droomph View Post
Please read these passages, and see:
No thanks. All the verses you cite are taken out of context. They cannot be read properly without being in context, or in other words, without being read as part of the larger story. It's no different than someone pulling a quote from someone's speech and using that quote to prove a point. Because the quote is pulled out of context, the text cannot be read as it was meant to.

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For atheists, it's people like you. You condemn all of us, even when you have the same faults in your logic as we do.
Please refrain from painting people with such a broad brush. I condemn no one, and I haven't heard anyone on here even come close to condemning you. I just happen to disagree with your point of view. That is not condemnation. That is discussion.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 06:03 PM
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I'd better pop some popcorn, this is gettin' good. And I'll just pop in here real quick, which I had been meaning to a while back but forgot to...

Let's see, my views on atheism... well, I'm an atheist myself but atheism in general kind of annoyed me a little bit. Even though I agreed with all their points, they always seemed so cocky and arrogant in the way they spoke and carried themselves. I used to just think, "Man, calm down, it's just the Internet... no need to get vicious." That applies to both sides though. Now I'm starting to see why they get so passionate about it. I keep it contained, and I never debate or argue. But I see where they're coming from now.
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Old April 12th, 2013, 10:16 PM
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Ok wow so much to say, so little time. Not sleeping tonight :/
But ok yay, this is developing into something quite enjoyable (:
[clears throat]

The origins of the universe can be attributed to one of two theories. These theories are facial, we cannot delve into the origins of these origins simply because we can't comprehend them. In other words, we can only see the faces of these theories and not what goes on behind them, I'll explain why in a bit. The two theories are:
  • Cosmic Coincidence
  • Creator/God
Logically speaking, those are the only two possible explanations. Either someone created matter/existence, or something happened to create it. There are a few ways I can think of to put this reasoning into an argument towards whether God exists or not.
  • If something happened to created matter, something that did not involve a God, it had to have followed the existence of something else. Matter came from light, according to the Big Bang theory, so where did the light come from? You could go on with this argument forever, and the only way to stop is to reach, at some point, an entity responsible for all of creation.
    The reason behind this is the classic paradox or creator vs creation. What a creator creates does not apply to them because before they created it, it did not exist. On the other hand, they created it, so it should apply to everything, but it does not apply to them.
    More to that, if we deny the existence of a God, then I ask you this: What was there before there was everything? You could say nothingness but you'd be wrong, because nothingness is a concept that can only exist or be used if there is something somewhere else, because nothingness is the absence of something.
    So basically, there is no way to attribute our incapability to comprehend the origins of this world without somehow involving a God. Our knowledge is limited and at the scale of the universe, our logic may be flawed.
  • A coincidence is attributed to randomness, to chaos. When something happens for no reason without someone behind a cause, then it is said to be random. If our world was created by randomness, then how come the universe is so balanced? How could the resources we need for survival be part of the few renewable resources on Earth? How can everything our species needs to live be at the reach of our fingertips on one planet in a universe bigger than imagination? How did coincidence, randomness, work towards the creation of a living, breathing and thinking species such as humanity? Or life for that matter? It couldn't have. Coincidence couldn't possibly have created the level of systematic balance in our world, and this level of perfection in creation can only be, once again, attributed to a God.

I could go on to employ even your own judgement:
  • Look at the nearest wall to you. Now think, that the small grain you see in that wall is created of millions of atoms, atoms the are composed of particles, particles that are held together by a nuclear binding force that, had it been even the slightest bit less or more, that wall would not be solid, wouldn't be stable. Think of the microscopic intangible and unthinkable forces that have preserved the composition of matter and stopped it from going back to stray random photons.

    That right there is the mark of someone's handiwork.

2cents anyways because I gotta sleep :/
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