What made you turn atheist or agnostic?
Great quote. I really need to read more of Dawkins' literature.
BTW I think that most who really deconverted from JW by finding the flaws in their religion, have developed the skill set needed for deconstructing any religious claim (or other nonsense).
Of course some exJW still believe, or are still Christian in some way....but I really can't see how that works? But well.... I'm a logic kinda person, not the touchy feely type that might love God and Jesus more than I ever did, and finds another group to worship with.
I left the JW organisation around 10 years ago, but consider myself as still agnostic, therefore I havent given up hope on if god exists or not.
What made me turn from being a believer to being agnostic? Answer - being unhappy. During my time as a follower I felt myself sliding into a state of being unhappy, miserable, frustrated and eventually depressed. I used to ask myself 'If this is god's organisation, then why am I feeling like this?'. Since leaving the organisation, I have developed my secular career as an engineer, met a fine lady, started a family and am much happier ten years on.
Now when I think about it, It p*sses me off when you'd hear a talk or read a Watchtower / Awake article about the Devil trying to make us feel depressed and worthless, when really it was the JW teachings and general way of life that was making me feel that way.
In addition to the above, since then I have come to learn that much of their doctrines / teachings are inaccurate and erroneous, and at the time of my entering the JW faith, I was a bit naive and gullible, and didn't really question it properly.
However, just because I have rejected the JW faith doesn't mean I have given up on the hope of there being a god up above (or below, or wherever). I need more evidence that he does exist. Can anyone prove this beyond doubt? I don't think so. Many people come in his name citing verses from the Bible, Koran, Torah etc, but no one can properly prove that he exists and we are his creation. Therefore as long as this is the case, I will remain an agnostic.
Landy: So in one statement sagan says a belief in a theist god is ludicrous then the next one goes on to say 'well, we can't prove it's not there'??
Not so. Sagan is addressing the idea of the god of the Abrahamic religions in the first quote. This is what he calls ludicrous.
In the second statement he is addressing the idea that there could be some other kind of "god," an impersonal being more akin to the detached, indifferent god of deism. It is impossible to say such a being does not exist.
How does one disprove the hypothetical existence of null space?
There is no contradiction as he is discussing two very different conceptions of "god" and the subsequent likelihood of their existence based on an examination of available evidence. In the first instance, there is no tangible evidence proving the existence of the desert god of the OT and plenty of evidence against that belief. In the second instance, there is--by definition--no definitive evidence either way, nor is there likely to be with the available tools we have at present. There is the possibility that may change in the future, but it is only a speculative possibility.
done4good: I am a big fan of Sagan, but he is just plain wrong here. He does atheism an incredible disservice with this statement.
I believe you are making the same mistake that Landy made in reading the two Sagan quotes I posted. Please see my comments to him above.
d4g: Atheism concerning belief in a desert god is no different than non-belief in the Easter Bunny.
Yes, but that's not the context of the Sagan quote you commented on.
His first quote is addressing the desert god of the Old Testament, the second one is addressing the possibility of a "creator/god" that is now uninvolved, indifferent and unknowable, aka the "god" of deism.
You also seem to have ignored my comments introducing each quote. His quotes are explanatory of MY statements and not the other way around.
BTW, I did not post his quotes as "an appeal to authority" (which are not, incidentally, fallacious in the way I presented them).
I just like the way he said worded his arguments, very eloquent and clear. Forget WHO said it and consider the logic of the statements. They stand on their own.
Perhaps I should have given more context.
Doing Bible study and research convinced I was a Christian we all believers are Borg wrong on this and then saw a quote by someone that the Canaanite God head of their Pantheon of God's was named El.
Oubliette, I can assure you I was not ignoring what you were saying, and agree only the first quote was in reference to a desert OT type god.
Deism was very much a precursor to modern atheism. Very few people at the beginning of the enlightenment era considered themselves atheists, (such as Thomas Paine), however when their views on the matter are considered in context, their ideas were no different than modern atheists. Sagan chooses to define modern atheism as something it is not, (as refusal to accept the possibility of a god or superior power), rather than simple non-belief. A higher power could be many things, (from zero dimension point particle branes to multi-dimension p-branes to some superior intellect that humans will never know), however none of those possibilities imply belief. They are merely possibilities that can be acknowledged.
Deists are no different than modern atheists in this context. Sagan's statement that atheism is "certainty that god does not exist", is a misrepresentation of atheism as understood by modern definition.
d4g: Sagan chooses to define modern atheism as something it is not, (as refusal to accept the possibility of a god or superior power), rather than simple non-belief.
Thank you for taking a minute to respond.
I disagree that Sagan was trying to define "atheism" as having only one meaning. In fact, I think the fact that he discussed the term in a variety of ways is evidence that he understood people do not always mean the same thing when they use it or related terms.
d4g: Sagan's statement that atheism is "certainty that god does not exist", is a misrepresentation of atheism as understood by modern definition.
According to whom?
In spite of the efforts of some individuals or groups to try and redefine what any particular word does or does not mean, it just doesn't work that way. The meaning of words are defined by popular usage. To put it simply, when it comes to defining the meaning of words: the lunatics are running the asylum and they are in control of the dictionaries.
I'll go with dictionaries that take a descriptivist (rather than a proscriptivist) view of word usage and their meaning(s). For example:
American Heritage Dictionary: Atheism - n. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
Merriam Webster's: Atheism - a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity
You'll note that both of these dictionaries recognize a range of meanings for "atheism," meanings which include your limited definition of the word, but also more than "simple non-belief."
Failure to acknowledge that this varied usage is how this term is actually used in common speech and popular discourse by average people is to deny reality. This is how I understand Sagan's comment and probably why he clarified what he meant.
This is also why I always clarify what I mean: I do not believe in any god at all, but I also think it is irrational to positively assert that no god exists and that this can be known with any certainty.
What other people think and/or believe is obviously all over the map. They should take the time to examine the evidence, think the issues through and learn to clearly articulate their beliefs without trying to simplify it into a single word, which essentially is its own kind of dogma. Propagandists of every ilk try to simplify complex issues into short, easy-to-remember slogans.
I'm sure you've noticed that I'm against that kind of thing.
d4g: A higher power could be many things.... They are merely possibilities that can be acknowledged.
There is an inherent problem in defining atheism.
You have to start by agreeing on an approximate definition of god.
d4g: I can assure you I was not ignoring what you were saying
That's good to know, but of course there was no way for me to know that before as your previous comments were only about the Sagan quotes I used and completely ignored my comments, which--as I said earlier--his quotes are explanatory of MY statements and not the other way around.