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Why Are You Theistic, Atheistic Or Agnostic?

Theism, broadly defined, is just the belief in the existence of at least one god. Contrasted with this is atheism: broadly defined, atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of any gods.

Never has such a simple concept provoked so much misinformation, myths, and bigotry. Atheism is just the absence of belief in gods -nothing more, nothing less. Beyond that atheists may believe or disbelieve absolutely anything.

What is the definition of agnosticism? Some imagine that agnosticism is an alternative to atheism, but those people have typically bought into the mistaken notion of the single, narrow definition of atheism. Strictly speaking, agnosticism is about knowledge, and knowledge is a related but separate issue from belief, the domain of theism and atheism."A" means "without" and "gnosis" means "knowledge." Hence, agnostic: without knowledge, but specifically without knowledge of gods. It may be technically correct, but rare, to use the word in reference to any other knowledge as well.Despite such possible usages, it remains the case that the term agnosticism is used fairly exclusively with respect to a single issue: do any gods exist or not? Those who disclaim any such knowledge or even that any such knowledge is possible are properly labeled agnostics. Everyone who claims that such knowledge is possible or that they have such knowledge might be called "gnostics".

Confusion about agnosticism commonly arises when people assume that "agnosticism" actually just means that a person is undecided about whether or not a god exists, and also that "atheism" is limited to "strong atheism" - the assertion that no gods do or can exist. If those assumptions were true, then it would be accurate to conclude that agnosticism is some sort of "third way" between atheism and theism. However, those assumptions are not true. Commenting on this situation, Gordon Stein wrote in his essay "The Meaning of Atheism and Agnosticism":

Obviously, if theism is a belief in a God and atheism is a lack of a belief in a God, no third position or middle ground is possible. A person can either believe or not believe in a God. Therefore, our previous definition of atheism has made an impossibility out of the common usage of agnosticism to mean "neither affirming nor denying a belief in God." Actually, this is no great loss, because the dictionary definition of agnostic is still again different from Huxley's definition. The literal meaning of agnostic is one who holds that some aspect of reality is unknowable. Therefore, an agnostic is not simply someone who suspends judgment on an issue, but rather one who suspends judgment because he feels that the subject is unknowable and therefore no judgment can be made. It is possible, therefore, for someone not to believe in a God (as Huxley did not) and yet still suspend judgment (ie, be an agnostic) about whether it is possible to obtain knowledge of a God. Such a person would be an atheistic agnostic. It is also possible to believe in the existence of a force behind the universe,but to hold (as did Herbert Spencer) that any knowledge of that force was unobtainable. Such a person would be a theistic agnostic.

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In the dear old religious days the earth was flat -- a little dishing, if anything -- and just above it was Jehovah's house, and just below it was where the Devil lived. God and his angels inhabited the third story, the Devil and his imps the basement, and the human race the second floor.

Then they knew where heaven was. They could almost hear the harps and hallelujahs. They knew where hell was, and they could almost hear the groans and smell the sulphurous fumes. They regarded the volcanoes as chimneys. They were perfectly acquainted with the celestial, the terrestrial and the infernal. They were quite familiar with the New Jerusalem, with its golden streets and gates of pearl. Then the translation of Enoch seemed reasonable enough, and no one doubted that before the flood the sons of God came down and made love to the daughters of men. The theologians thought that the builders of Babel would have succeeded if God had not come down and caused them to forget the meaning of words.

In those blessed days the priests knew all about heaven and hell. They knew that God governed the world by hope and fear, by promise and threat, by reward and punishment. The reward was to be eternal and so was the punishment. It was not God's plan to develop the human brain, so that man would perceive and comprehend the right and avoid the wrong. He taught ignorance, nothing but obedience, and for obedience he offered eternal joy. He loved the submissive -- the kneelers and crawlers. He hated the doubters, the investigators, the thinkers, the philosophers. For them he created the eternal prison where he could feed forever the hunger of his hate. He loved the credulous -- those who believed without evidence -- and for them he prepared a home in the realm of fadeless light. He delighted in the company of the questionless.

But where is this heaven, and where is this hell? We now know that heaven is not just above the clouds and that hell is not just below the earth. The telescope has done away with the ancient heaven, and the revolving world has quenched the flames of the ancient hell. These theological countries, these imagined worlds, have disappeared. No one knows, and no one pretends to know, where heaven is; and no one knows, and no one pretends to know, the locality of hell. Now the theologians say that hell and heaven are not places, but states of mind-conditions.

The belief in gods and devils has been substantially universal. Back of the good, man placed a god; back of the evil, a devil; back of health, sunshine and harvest was a good deity; back of disease, misfortune and death he placed a malicious fiend.

Is there any evidence that gods and devils exist? The evidence of the existence of a god and of a devil is substantially the same. Both of these deities are inferences; each one is a perhaps. They have not been seen -- they are invisible -- and they have not ventured within the horizon of the senses. The old lady who said there must be a devil, else how could they make pictures that looked exactly like him, reasoned like a trained theologian -- like a doctor of divinity.

Robert Ingersoll -- Superstition

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Re: Why Are You Theistic, Atheistic Or Agnostic?

« #29 on: December 14, 2008, 09:41 PM »

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Quote from: Chrisbenogor on December 14, 2008, 09:38 PM

@busybein

Why don't you tell us why you believe in God, what do you think of atheists, agnostics?

because he saved me alot of times,but one day,even when doctors lost hope,he was always there for me,even when my family lost hope he was stil there for me,waiting for me to call upon him,and i did,that was d very first day i had an encounter with him,and that was d day i started getting my life back

hi mazaje

i read ur post but what made me to reply is this post by busybein . . . s/he gave her/him testimony of her/him personal experience of y s/he believe in God and u went ahead to say y is others not experiencing it. well if u could, u could have asked them y? but i feel s/he has given her/him personal account and i feel its ok.

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All i'll say is am an atheist and i've never been happier!

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What Is a Miracle?

An act performed by a master of nature without reference to the facts in nature. This is the only honest definition of a miracle.

If a man could make a perfect circle, the diameter of which was exactly one-half the circumference, that would be a miracle in geometry. If a man could make twice four, nine, that would be a miracle in mathematics. If a man could make a stone, falling in the air, pass through a space of ten feet the first second, twenty-five feet the second second, and five feet the third second, that would be a miracle in physics. If a man could put together hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen and produce pure gold, that would be a miracle in chemistry. If a minister were to prove his creed, that would be a theological miracle. If Congress by law would make fifty cents worth of silver worth a dollar, that would be a financial miracle. To make a square triangle would be a most wonderful miracle. To cause a mirror to reflect the faces of persons who stand behind it, instead of those who stand in front, would be a miracle. To make echo answer a question would be a miracle. In other words, to do anything contrary to or without regard to the facts in nature is to perform a miracle.

Now we are convinced of what is called the "uniformity of nature." We believe that all things act and are acted upon in accordance with their nature; that under like conditions the results will always be substantially the same; that like ever has and ever will produce like. We now believe that events have natural parents and that none die childless.

Miracles are not simply impossible, but they are unthinkable by any man capable of thinking.

Now an intelligent man cannot believe that a miracle ever was, or ever will be, performed.

Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows.

Robert Ingersoll --Superstition.

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For many centuries it was believed that eclipses of the sun and moon were prophetic of pestilence or famine, and that comets foretold the death of kings, or the destruction of nations, the coming of war or plague. All strange appearances in the heavens -- the Northern Lights, circles about the moon, sun dogs, falling stars -- filled our intelligent ancestors with terror. They fell upon their knees -- did their best with sacrifice and prayer to avoid the threatened disaster. Their faces were ashen with fear as they closed their eyes and cried to the heavens for help. The clergy, who were as familiar with God then as the orthodox preachers are now, knew exactly the meaning of eclipses and sun dogs and Northern Lights; knew that God's patience was nearly exhausted; that he was then whetting the sword of his wrath, and that the people could save themselves only by obeying the priests, by counting their beads and doubling their subscriptions.

Earthquakes and cyclones filled the coffers of the church. In the midst of disasters the miser, with trembling hands, opened his purse. In the gloom of eclipses thieves and robbers divided their booty with God, and poor, honest, ignorant girls, remembering that they had forgotten to say a prayer, gave their little earnings to soften the heart of God.

Now we know that all these signs and wonders in the heavens have nothing to do with the fate of kings, nations or individuals; that they had no more reference to human beings than to colonies of ants, hives of bees or the eggs of insects. We now know that the signs and eclipses, the comets, and the falling stars, would have been just the same if not a human being had been upon the earth. We know now that eclipses come at certain times and that their coming can be exactly foretold.

A little while ago the belief was general that there were certain healing virtues in inanimate things, in the bones of holy men and women, in the rags that had been torn from the foul clothing of still fowler saints, in hairs from martyrs, in bits of wood and rusty nails from the true cross, in the teeth and finger nails of pious men, and in a thousand other sacred things.

The diseased were cured by kissing a box in which was kept some bone, or rag, or bit of wood, some holy hairs, provided the kiss was preceded, or followed by a gift -- a something for the church.

In some mysterious way the virtue in the bone, or rag, or piece of wood, crept or flowed from the box, took possession of the sick who had the necessary faith, and in the name of God drove out the devils who were the real disease.

This belief in the efficacy of bones or rags and holy hair was born of another belief -- the belief that all diseases were produced by evil spirits. The insane were supposed to be possessed by devils. Epilepsy and hysteria were produced by the imps of Satan. In short, every human affliction was the work of the malicious emissaries of the god of hell. This belief was almost universal, and even in our time the sacred bones are believed in by millions of people.

But to-day no intelligent man believes in the existence of devils -- no intelligent man believes that evil spirits cause disease -- consequently, no intelligent person believes that holy bones or rags, sacred hairs or pieces of wood, can drive disease out, or in any way bring back to the pallid cheek the rose of health.

Intelligent people now know that the bone of a saint has in it no greater virtue than the bone of any animal. That a rag from a wandering beggar is just as good as one from a saint, and that the hair of a horse will cure disease just as quickly and surely as the hair of a martyr. We now know that all the sacred relics are religious rubbish; that those who use them are for the most part dishonest, and that those who rely on them are almost idiotic.

This belief in amulets and charms, in ghosts and devils, is superstition, pure and simple.

Culled from Robert Ingersoll's "Superstition"

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@huxley, you this guy. You still dey. I thought that you'd abandoned Nairaland when I didn't your incessant posts and threads flooding in anymore. I hope you're well sha.

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Is this really true? How do you know this is true? Does god know people before they are born? Consider this - Between 30% - 70 % of all pregnancies are aborted naturally by the body even before the woman is aware that she is pregnant, a phenonemon called chemical pregnancies.

Compounding this worldwide, this amounts to many millions (if not billions) of people that God knew in their mother's womb, but yet allows them to be washed out naturally and killed. What a loving god!

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@mazaje,

I've not come to preach to you about God but i just want you to know that there is a God in heaven.

Am a living witness. He created you to worship him. How people serve / worship Him is not my problem

the major thing is your relationship with your creator.Before you were formed in your mothers womb He knew you.

One day you shall give account of your deeds here on earth.Now that you have the opportunity THINK about it.

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Very wise words nimshi, very wise.

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Since you're curious, here's some: it's a joke to suppose that there aren't atheists in Nigeria, and ones open about it at that. A million years ago, when yours truly was a student in Nigeria, there were more than a few students who were open about their atheism; many others preferred to be agnostic; and - yes - there were a few Satanists; I knew two, Satanists. these two were exceptionally brilliant students, better than brilliant. The Mayflower graduates were in a special class: ideas flowed from them like a blessed river; we would have tough discussions that would end in us sharing a meal from a pot; those were the days.

The atheists were curious types; but they never were cast out: they were always brilliant and well-read. Not that the theists were dull, only that you've got to know when our arguments had stopped to appeal to logic and reason. Our early discussions led me to a conclusion: if you're a person of belief, it's fruitless to claim that your belief is based on logic, this will just make your submissions open to easy attacks. The ironclad position is to insist that your belief is based on faith. And of course, you couldn't credibly claim that 'faith', religiously defined, is logical.

There's a Nigerian Humanist Movement: http://www.iheu.org/node/1472

Leo Igwe writes op-eds in Nigerian newspapers (the Guardian at least)

Other related Nigeria-centric locations are:

http://new.iheyo.org/node/488

http://www.secularstudents.org/node/465

And, do you remember the writer who asked that god not weep in his beer? He's an atheist, I'd think. Hint: he was awarded a national award this week. Bonus hint: his son collected the award on his behalf. Soon, we'll get to when religion (or the absence of it) willcease to be a qualification for anything.

.

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my step father says that i should not tell anybody and keep it to my self, he is a wonderful man who has no problem with that.

my mum thinks i am insane and is praying day and night for jesus to bring me back into my senses

my brother has no problem with that but thinks i am crazy

my aunt will torture or waterboard me if she has the chance, she feels i have been posessed by the devil and his agents

my uncle will torture me back to christainity if he has the chance too, he thinks i am insane and need to be taken to a very good man of god for deliverence

all in all they don't tell people and i have learnt that professing your lack of belief in god can get you killed in nigeria so i always keep quite when ever i am in nigeria. . . . .

nice chatting with you i have to go and sleep now see you some other time bye. . . . .

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You can't say you don't believe in God and still be angry at Him!

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I know there's only one God and He created all things,the earth and all that is in it,i have had too many personal experiences not to believe,i have too many answererd prayers to be called  a coincidence.

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i ask again,can u see their hearts?

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@busybein

Why don't you tell us why you believe in God, what do you think of atheists, agnostics?

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ok,atleast u r amongst the 1% that did not discover this at d age of 13 abi 14

what will happen if (that is if u r still single)u end up wt someone that believes in d GOD of d bible?will u grant her d freedm of worship

its not a must to answer,if u don't want to,i can understand

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i became an atheist when i was an adult, at what age did you start to get brianwashed by religious dogma? i guess since when you were a baby. . . .

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mazaje at what age did u start doubting d existence of God?13/14 like ur fellow atheists?

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i became an atheist when i went to thailand and discovered that there were so many people that did not understand what i was talking about when i mentioned the name jesus and christainity. i was shocked, i came to england and meet a friend who had lived in china and during the course of our discussion about china and the region as a whole he told me that there are hundreds of millions of chinese, mongolians, burmese and north koreans who he believes have never heard the word jesus, mohammed, islam, christainity and judaism in their lives and many of them have died without ever hearing or knowing about the western and arabic faiths(jesus and mohammed). . . . i was born into a muslim home but had to become a christain when my mum divorced my late father and married a christain man. . . . i have had so many experiences with islam and christainity and the bottom line is that they are both a farce. . . .

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99% of d atheists start doubting the existence of God inbtw d age of 13 and 14,is it some curse placed u lots?

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Oneday in church {in England} when i was only 14 in the early eighties. The whole idea about a man creating the world in 6 days sounded like a fairytale to me. Since then i have embraced evolution and i have never looked back since. Because i haven't seen any solid evidence to prove to me that there is an invisible man in the sky watching looking down on us watching everything we do.

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@Chrisbenogor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_(illusion)

From here: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/hinduism/21133

I am surrounded by 4 thick hard walls of my room. These walls, I believe, are dense and solid and I cannot pass through them. Yet a physicists will tell me that far from being solid, in actually fact, the walls are mostly empty space. If an atom was seen on the scale of a football stadium then the only solid matter would be the nucleus which will be the size of a penny in the middle of the football pitch. All around the pitch will be spinning electron much smaller than a grain of sand as far as to the circumference of the stadium.

So Atoms are mostly empty space. From where to we get the illusion of solidity. That is because the Atom emits a force called electromagnetic forces (as well as certain nuclear forces) that give the illusion of the atom being a sold mass. It is the electromagnetic force it emits that doesn't allow us to pass through the wall and gives it the illusion of solidness.

This is just one example of reality being quite different from the way that things are presented to us by our senses.

The world is full of so many other optical, auditory, olfactory illusions. If you remain unconvinced then I can go and research it for you some more.

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@pastor

How are you sure you that nairaland exists?

I am really finding it hard to follow what you are saying. The whole world cannot be having an illusion. Please explain what you are driving at.

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Well I tell only who asks I don't go about bragging.

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"All i'm saying is, if you live in Nigeria, will you still be bold to declare openly you are an atheist? Just curious." Huh

What are you implying?

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Who told you that we are sharing an illusion? Perhaps it is part of your illusion that others are seeing the same things as you.

And then on the other hand, it is possible to share illusions. Have you not heard of mass hysteria?

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Is divine command morality even moral?

The divine command theory of ethics is the idea that nothing is right or wrong outside of God's will. If God wills something, then it's good. If God wills that something not be done, then it's wrong. Good and evil are not independent of God and God's will. Can we really say that this is a genuine theory of morality, though? If not, then divine command theory isn't merely a wrong theory of morality, but isn't even a legitimate theory of morality in the first place.

Divine command theory is closely associated with theism, naturally - there is no such thing as divine command theory without a prior belief in and commitment to sort of theism. Not all theists actually accept this idea of morality, though; in fact, some actually reject it as contrary to true love of God.

Leibniz once wrote :

In saying, therefore, that things are not good according to any standard of goodness, but simply by the will of God, it seems to me that one destroys, without realizing it, all the love of God and all his glory; for why praise him for what he has done, if he would be equally praiseworthy in doing the contrary? Where will be his justice and his wisdom if he has only a certain despotic power, if arbitrary will takes the place of reasonableness, and if in accord with the definition of tyrants, justice consists in that which is pleasing to the most powerful? Besides it seems that every act of willing supposes some reason for the willing and this reason, of course, must precede the act.

It's hardly surprising that arbitrary and despotic powers have had little problem with the divine command theory of morality. At the very least, getting people accustomed to following divine commands regardless of their consequences or reasonableness - and always thinking that this is "moral" - is a wonderful means for priming people to follow the commands of any other leader as wel -especially one that purports to speak on behalf of or in defense of traditional religion.

Once morality is equality with obedience and sinfulness with disobedience, rulers have taken a major step towards acquiring the unquestioning submission of a significant portion of their community. It's simply not common for religions to promote the questioning of their gods, religious institutions, religious traditions, or religious authorities.

Even though progressives and rebels have always managed to find license for their activism in their religious traditions, the weight of traditions, leaders, and institutions have tended much more strongly towards support of the status quo - including the arbitrary rule of despots for whom consequences and reasonableness are irrelevant.

If no moral principles exist apart from God's will, God's moral choices cannot be principled, and a being that makes unprincipled choices, is not a being worthy of worship, If actions are neither right nor wrong independent of God's will, then God cannot choose one over another because it is morally better. Thus, any moral choices God makes must be arbitrary. But a being who acts arbitrarily does not deserve our praise. So not only is the divine command theory implausible, it is impious as well.

It's curious that theists would be consider defending such a position. Who would praise a god for doing something completely arbitrary? Wouldn't worship of such a god be nothing more than the worship of power - the worship of a being merely because it is powerful enough to do whatever it wants? It's strikingly similar to toadying to a powerful king or other ruler who holds people's fate in his hands.

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atheism was a gradual process for me. I went from baptist to no i don't want to go to church to deist then now purely an atheist.  I'm an atheist because i feel no connection or sense of any proof of god(s) people talk about.

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Then we will not all share the same illusion, reality is not an illusion.

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But can the agnostic argument not be applied to all knowledge whatsoever? Epistemologically speaking, do we know anything? We know how things appear, but do we actually know the thing? What if the manner in which we perceive things is just an illusion and the reality is altogether different from the perception.

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Are there no scientists or theologians and philosophers who know more than I do but believe in God?

There is a common belief among many theists that there are strong philosophical or theological arguments which have proven that God exists, thus rendering disbelief in God perverse at best. This is not a claim that there exist philosophical arguments that make theism reasonable or the existence of God plausible; rather it is a much stronger claim that theism is necessary and the existence of God definite. This is incorrect and it gives theists a false sense of security in their beliefs.

There are no philosophical arguments that prove that any gods do or must exist. Even the very best philosophical arguments would, at most, make the existence of some sort of god plausible or perhaps likely -and that is assuming that those arguments are strong. In reality, however, even the best arguments defending the existence of God are full of problems, holes, and logical errors. Most of the time they seem to be more about helping believers rationalize and justify beliefs they already hold rather than to provide a sound foundation for adopting a belief.

For theists under the mistaken impression that science, philosophy, or theology has proven the existence of their god, one particular problem is the fact that even the strongest of these arguments don't point to the specific god or any particular religion. They might point to the existence of a "First Cause" or a "Designer," but these share almost nothing with the gods described by various Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theologians. If a "First Cause" exists, it may not even be conscious or intelligent, much less a loving being that sent a son to die for our sins.

This, of course, doesn't take into account the many atheological arguments which are used to disprove the existence of gods (or at least show that belief in them is unreasonable). There are no atheological arguments which disprove the existence of absolutelyall possible gods, but there are very good arguments against the existence of the sorts of gods many people believe in, focusing upon important attributes of God as believed in religious systems like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

It is because of these atheological arguments that many philosophers and theologians will point out that while theological arguments defending theism may offer some intellectual support, in the end theism must rest upon some measure of faith rather than reason. There may be philosophical and even scientific arguments in support of the existence of God, but they aren't strong enough to stand completely on their own or justify belief on their own, especially given the powerful philosophical and scientific arguments against the existence of gods.

What this means then is that there are very good reasons for a person to be an atheist: there are no philosophical or scientific arguments which render disbelief in gods nonsensical, perverse, or completely unjustified. The same is not necessarily true of theism, however, at least with certain forms of theism based upon gods with certain characteristics. There are atheological arguments which make belief in common, popular gods with particular characteristics irrational or unjustified.

It may not be that philosophers have proven that God doesn't exist, but philosophers have made it pretty clear that, when certain characteristics or combinations of characteristics are thrown into the mix, God cannot or most likely cannot exist. Removing those characteristics or seriously redefining them may salvage a possible existence for some sort of deity, but only by sacrificing much of what people think that God (in the Western, monotheistic sense) must be.

In other words, the possible existence of God is only salvaged by gutting the traditional concept of God.This is a powerful reason why many people remain atheists, regardless of what their original reasons for questioning an doubting the existence of gods might have been. Such arguments make the acceptance of theism, or at least any traditional theism, very difficult and very unlikely, because such theism simply doesn't have enough support to make it justified.

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I am an atheist because all the people i've asked have failed to show me why their god is better than the other gods. . . . . and all the gods are evil in one way or the other. . . . i am an atheist because men created all the gods in their own image and because all religions were created out of the fear of the many and the cleverness of a few. . . .i am an atheist because all religions are a farce. . . . . . .

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Men cannot remain stationary. The mind cannot be securely anchored. If we do not advance, we go backward. If we do not grow, we decay. If we do not develop, we shrink and shrivel. Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew -- who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess -- no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity -- back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth -- all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death. They not only knew the beginning, but they knew the end. They knew that life had one path and one road. They knew that the path, grass-grown and narrow, filled with thorns and nettles, infested with vipers, wet with tears, stained by bleeding feet, led to heaven, and that the road, broad and smooth, bordered with fruits and flowers, filled with laughter and song and all the happiness of human love, led straight to hell. They knew that God was doing his best to make you take the path and that the Devil used every art to keep you in the road. They knew that there was a perpetual battle waged between the great Powers of good and evil for the possession of human souls. They knew that many centuries ago God had left his throne and had been born a babe into this poor world -- that he had suffered death for the sake of man -- for the sake of saving a few. They also knew that the human heart was utterly depraved, so that man by nature was in love with wrong and hated God with all his might. At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work. They also knew that he had been thwarted by the Devil, who with wiles and lies had deceived the first of human kind. They knew that in consequence of that, God cursed the man and woman; the man with toil, the woman with slavery and pain, and both with death; and that he cursed the earth itself with briers and thorns, brambles and thistles. All these blessed things they knew. They knew too all that God had done to purify and elevate the race. They knew all about the Flood --knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children -- the old and young --the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe -- the young man and the merry maiden -- the loving mother and the laughing child -- because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds -- everything that walked or crawled or flew -- because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. All who doubted or denied would be lost. To live a moral and honest life -- to keep your contracts, to take care of wife and child -- to make a happy home -- to be a good citizen, a patriot, a just and thoughtful man, was simply a respectable way of going to hell.

Culled from 'Why I am agnostic' by Robert Ingersoll.

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