Philosophy 101

A Basic Premise

If I correctly understand the basic premise of the atheist position it is that; the physical world is the total of our reality and that all truth is subject to the law of scientific inquiry. True?

If I understand the basic premise of the theist position (limit here to Biblical model) it is that; our physical world originated from a spiritual creator and this creator is not subject to proof by law of scientific inquiry. True?

Given the differences in these basic premises is there any common ground for discussion at all? My personal conclusion is that I can never prove anything to an atheist, but only possibly convince him to reconsider his basic premise. Of course he would also like to persuade me that my basic premise is faulty. It appears that our most likely common ground is that which is right in front of us-nature.

Rational, reasonable, hyper-rational?

People want proof! Our age of reason insists that man can know and prove everything. Man believes that knowledge is the key to our evolutionary process and liberation. I will call this hyper-rational. It is not truly rational or reasonable to esteem man’s capacity for “unlimited” knowledge to this level. Humility is to admit that tomorrow’s knowledge is greater than today’s, that we do not know everything, nor can we. Tomorrow science could possibly discover the spiritual world.

Has our hyper-rational culture screwed the lid of life on so tight that we are in bondage to knowledge? Look at so many cultures of the world where spirituality is not repulsive. Most of Asia doesn’t even separate government from religion (Japan). Many cultures would consider our denial of spirituality like amputating a leg. Is our age of reason really so wonderful if it just makes our head fat but our hearts sick? Knowledge is truly a great gift. So I choose to give thanks to the giver of knowledge.

A question for the heart.

Imagine your most favorite thing in the world, whatever you love the most; a best friend, sport, nature, whatever. Now imagine that if there were a creator/artist behind this beauty, would you want to acknowledge it? Would you want to know the artist behind the art if you could? Could you see the beauty behind the beauty? A simple yes or no will do.

I believe (based on observation) that most of the big decisions of life are made from the heart not from the head. We really make choices from our desires and then seek mental reasons to justify it. Few of us are really like Mr. Spock or Data of Star Trek. It’s a hard question but to be fair it should be asked of religions as well; would you want to know if your religion is false? Or if there were no creator would I want to know that?



I looked on the mountain for truth,

in the cracks, on the peaks.

I looked in schools and books

until my head hurt.

I cried like a poet seeking truth.

A taste, a nibble, an aroma of truth

is all I could find, damn my mind.

Then wisdom spoke,

to me, she cried, she felt, she loved,

she healed, and she gave birth.

She bowed her head and surrendered

her life on the bloody tree

for me.

3 responses to “Philosophy 101

  • befuddled2

    Interesting blog.

    First off, I am an atheist. And you are correct that I do believe that the material world (I prefer the term natural world) is all there is.

    However I am not what you call a hyper rationalist (and I think your concept here is a bit fuzzy, but I won’t quibble about that right now). I know that our scientific knowledge may change and that is considered true today may be superceded by another theory in the future – much line Einstein’s relativity theory superceded Newton.

    However my atheism is not based upon science. I do not believe that Science can either prove nor disprove God, although it can disprove certain ideas about God and about how God works in the natural world. Science supports my atheism insofar as it provides a natural explanation for the universe we see around us. But it does not prove it.

    As for why I am an atheist, it is from the head and not the heart. My heart was very much Christian at the time I started my questions and I did not expect the follow own questions and the answers to lead me to atheism.

    Most of the time when I hear the argument that atheism is from the heart it is an attempt to avoid the very real problems in believing in an omnipotent, omniscient personal being who is also moral.

    Instead it gets attributed to motives such as problems with their father, an attachment to sin, a desire to be “free” and not have their actions restricted by God, etc.

    While reasons for atheism differ widely depending on the individual atheist (just as they do for theists) there are many, myself included, who are atheists because they have thought about it, read the arguments, discussed it and made a conscious decision that God probably does not exist.

    I started out as a Christian and remained one until the start of high school. Went to church and Sunday school, prayed before every meal, prayed at other times, and read my Bible.

    I had and still have a very close relationship with both my parents (and that includes my father) both of whom also provided me a good role model for what a Christian should be. Their actions matched their words.

    Which is probably why I am not one of the atheists who believe that religion is evil or a form of child abuse.

    Instead my questioning and ultimately my atheism arose from a series of moral questions and problems I had when reading the Bible. One question lead to another and in researching and looking for the answers I, disturbingly at the time, found myself inching closer and closer to atheism until I discovered that I had arrived – just before I started college.

    I’ll leave it here for now as my response looks to be at least as long as if not longer than your post. I have been accused of being long winded – or in this case long typing?. A failing that I fear I will never overcome.

    • maaark

      First I thank you for such a thoughtful response rather than an angry rant (see the religion forum for insane ranting!). I browsed your blog to get more of your thoughts.

      “Instead my questioning and ultimately my atheism arose from a series of moral questions and problems I had when reading the Bible. One question lead to another and in researching and looking for the answers I, disturbingly at the time, found myself inching closer and closer to atheism until I discovered that I had arrived – just before I started college.” I titled this discussion Philosophy 101 because it was in the P101 class that I first thought seriously about God. In this class the professor tried to stay neutral but insisted we think critically about the issues. We read highlights of great philosophers from both camps. During this time I came in my intellect to accept that if there is a creator that life would be best lived in harmony with it. This is very rational. But this reasoning only lead me up to the door of faith which had to entered at the heart level. You may have heard that the longest 18″ is that distance between head and heart? The Biblical view would be that even a very good moral man still needs to be born again, we need a divine infusion.

      In all I really appreciate your thoughtful approach and hopefully I can be equally respectful. And if the fundamentalist approach to the Bible is the main obstacle I have another blog to help: The Ancient Path

  • Bill Robinson

    I do not usually rant very much, especially when someone does not start off ranting at me.

    I will say that at first my problem was with a strictly literal approach to the Bible, which is why for a couple of years I was a liberal Christian who did not read the Bible literally(I read your post on Biblical Interpretation and found it to be a fairly accurate reflection of my thoughts at the time).

    However I continued to ask questions because there were still aspects of the concept of an omnipotent, omniscient, personal God who was moral that were still problematic.

    In looking for answers to these philosophical and ethical questions I eventually realized that the problems that the idea of a God solved were far outweighed by the problems created by this concept.

    Given this and given that there was no valid evidence for such a being and that the natural world could be explained perfectly well without reference to such a being, I became an atheist.

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