Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Is Atheism Irreverant?

I read this headline in the Vancouver Sun:  "Christ meets Bigfoot, More Irreverent Atheist Ads Set to Hit Canadian Cities."   And then I thought, wait a second, isn't that taking sides?
A brief disclaimer.  I'm not an atheist nor am I a believer.  I'm agnostic.  It's not sitting on the fence but a firm conviction that, whether a deity exists is probably much beyond our limited human intellect.  I'm not sure that, in the universal scheme of things, we're all that much brighter than slugs.  It's sort of like how my dog can look at his food container and be perfectly correct in knowing there's food in it but totally unable to grasp how that food came to be there or even what it is.   I suppose you can say he takes it all on faith.
Back to my point.   Can an atheist be irreverent absent the existence of an actual god?   And so is not the newspaper predetermining the question without proferring the slightest evidence that god exists?  If the atheist is right he cannot possibly be irreverent.
Isn't it weird the piddly stuff that can get under our skin?


LMA said...

Yup, I don't think we even know the questions, let alone the answers, when it comes to the grand scheme of things.

LeDaro said...

"I'm not an atheist nor am I a believer. I'm agnostic." I am glad that you stated that. Human knowledge is not perfect enough to have definitive answers. I think in that respect both religious fanatics and atheist go over board as they claim to know something definitely which they really don't.

The example of your dog sums it up quite well.

Once humans learn to respect each other indifferent to their beliefs or skin colour then that this the best belief system there is.

The Mound of Sound said...

Just yesterday astronomers announced that they had discovered new forms of galaxies from which they concluded there could actually be trillions of earth-like planets in the universe.

You, me, we're all out of the Periodic Table. Hydrogen, oxygen and carbon or combinations of those actually. Put elements together correctly and you can create life and now we even know how to do that artificially. American science has created life - from scratch. Real, self-replicating life.

Now take a trillion earth-like planets fermenting for 60-billion years and what are the odds?

LeDaro said...

Ok, scientists have created artificial life but with a raw material already there. Scientists have succeeded to create some artificial cells which mimic living cells which in turn can be used in medical field to help cure some diseases. That by no means unveils the total mystery of life.

As far as earth like planets are concerned that knowledge has been around for a while. I even suggested we take off for such a planet after we succeed to screw this one completely. :)

The Mound of Sound said...

No one, except perhaps you by inference, has suggested that creating an artificial organism "unveils the total mystery of life." It is merely a rather big step in beginning to unlock that mystery.

As for the trillion Earth-like planets, that announcement came out in the last 48-hours. They now estimate there are three times as many such planets as they previously believed. It used to be several hundreds of billions,now it's been reassessed at upwards of a trillion. Big difference.

LMA said...

Stephen Hawking believes that unless we take off for another earth like planet, we are probably doomed. In The Grand Design and M-theory, he also suggests that our perceptions are limited and warped, and that there could be multiple universes arising from physical laws, each with its' own probability and history not requiring the intervention of a supernatural deity. If he can't figure it out, I think we are all just whistling in the dark.

Was wondering MoS, if the "irreverance" of the atheist ads was in mocking Christ by comparing him to Bigfoot, i.e., an atheist could be irreverant by making fun of another's belief in God.

The Mound of Sound said...

Unless we take off for another Earth-like planet we are doomed. That is beyond dispute. Eventually there will be a catastrophic collision with another large asteroid/small planet that will extinguish all forms of life on Earth. That's a mathematical certainty. The only way to avoid our extinction is to have previously replicated our lifeform on another host planet or several others.

There are days when I doubt that we're likely to survive ourselves. The way things are shaping up in Cancun, we may all be Easter Islanders.

I have your point about the 'mocking' business. I think that's what annoys me most about atheists, their zealotry in what can only be described as their faith. They may be well equipped to disprove god as that notion is understood by Christians or Hindus, etc., but they'll never be successful in disproving that a god may exist.

21st century theologies have never been able to reconcile their creeds with things like quantum physics. If there are, indeed, 11 dimensions but we perceive but 4 (up, down, front, back, sideways and time) it throws a monkey wrench into our "whole of universe" religious beliefs.

LeDaro said...

MoS, trillions of earth-like planets may be new but earth-like planets discovery have been around for a while.

Check my post:

LMA, Stephen Hawking's word is not final. He lost to a plumber-turned physicist on the issue of blackholes. Hawking said anything which goes into a blackhole is gone forever. The plumber said hold it, it is not true. Plumber won the argument and Hawking admitted he was wrong.

The Mound of Sound said...

LD, I agree that it's highly unwise to treat anyone's word as final on just about anything that we haven't been able to test and prove.

That said, the eventual total extinction of life on Earth is a mathematical certainty. That is going to happen. Just how and when remain unknown. However at the end of the day our sun will go supernova and our planet, as a celestial body, will be no more.

When we consider whether intelligent life could evolve elsewhere we often fail to factor in the likelihood of cataclysmic extinction. It's more than conceivable that there has been intelligent life much superior to our own that has evolved elsewhere in the universe only to be extinguished by any one of several celestial causes.

That said I think Hawking is probably right when he argues that mankind's survival, in the long-term, depends on replicating ourselves elsewhere to improve our odds of avoiding total annihilation.

Who can tell what science will enable us to do in a thousand years - if we somehow survive that long?

LeDaro said...

"However at the end of the day our sun will go supernova and our planet, as a celestial body, will be no more."

That is a possibility in few billion years. However, we humans may succeed to destroy life on planet earth much sooner. There I agree with you and Hawking that we replicate ourselves elsewhere.

LMA said...

Why replicate elsewhere? We will no doubt fuck up elsewhere. As a dear friend of mine once said, it's a good thing we don't have control over death, because we would fuck that up too.

Maybe we should go extinct if we are a defective species, not fit to survive. Our intelligence is limited, but at the same time driven by powerful emotions. Bad combination.

LMA said...

My apologies to MoS and his readers for the profanity in my previous comment. Regrettably, the comment illustrates my intelligence, powerful emotion, bad outcome.

village1diot said...

I am atheist and I would never say there is no god. All atheists are saying is that nobody has provided any evidence for a god, therefore there is no proper reason to have such a belief.

The definition of atheist is not "a person who believes there is no god." Atheism is simply the lack of a positive belief in a god. Nothing more.

Also, "agnostic" or "gnostic" has to do with knowledge, not belief. Almost everyone is agnostic - meaning we do not know for certain whether a god exists or not. It says nothing about your belief. Most atheists are agnostic. Most theists are agnostic. It is the gnostic types(the ones that say that they know a god exists or does not exist) that are the fruitcakes. Personally, I do not know of any gnostic atheists, but I know of a lot of gnostic theists.

So when you say you are agnostic, you are saying nothing about your beliefs, just your knowledge. You don't know if there is a god or not, but do you have a belief in one? If you answer anything other than "yes", you are atheist.

There is no "in-between" with a belief. You either have it, or you don't. You are either a theist or an atheist. Being agnostic is only half of the story.

So pick one whether you like the label or not...

Gnostic Theist
Agnostic Theist
Gnostic Atheist
Agnostic Atheist

Every person on the planet falls into one of those categories, including you.