Agnostics Or Apistics?

In the past, I have defended the idea that rather than classifying people simply as atheists, agnostics, and theists that we should separate the questions of the contents of beliefs (whether they are atheistic or theistic) from whether one’s atheism or theism is held as a matter of knowledge or not. If one’s theism is personally thought to be a matter of knowledge, that theist is a gnostic theist—i.e., a theist making a knowledge claim that she knows there is a god (or gods). If a theist thinks the evidence is insufficient for a knowledge claim and yet opts to have faith despite sufficient evidence for a knowledge claim (or, worse, against sufficient evidence against such a knowledge claim) then that theist is an agnostic theist who does not claim to have knowledge but believes anyway.

And I argued that an agnostic atheist would be an atheist who thought there was not sufficient reason to have a belief that a god (or some specific kind of god) either did or did not exist and so had no knowledge, or even belief, on the matter but had a default atheism in lieu of the lack of sufficient evidence in either direction. This made her an agnostic atheist. She was someone who does not take herself to have knowledge (“a-gnostic”) and who was nonetheless, by default, a non-believer, i.e., one living without gods, an “a-theist”. She does not have a belief that there are no gods, she just lacks the belief in gods.

In reply, Maryann thinks that we need another option between on the one hand agnosticism, which in the case of the agnostic atheist (but not in the case of the agnostic theist) denotes a lack of belief only, and gnosticism on the other hand, which denotes outright knowledge. She thinks this distinction is necessary to account for the fact that people have beliefs which constitute neither refraining from belief nor actually knowing. She writes:

Gnosis is to knowledge as “x” is to belief. We need a better word for agnostic that uses “x” as its root.

Maryann and

I guess the word for belief is the same as the word for faith…pistis. I googled a bit and I guess folks actually do use to word “apistic” already (and not just to refer to a pregnancy test) (har). Atheists (of the sort usually called gnostic atheists) are pistic about atheism. I think it makes more sense to use the word pistic instead of gnostic, when talking about “gnostic” atheists/theists, because they can’t both “know”–they can’t both be “right”–and we’re really just talking about what they believe, not what they know.

I’m sympathetic to this point, except that I think the gnostic is more than pistic is the sense that the gnostic makes a knowledge claim, not merely a qualified belief claim. Consistent with what I take to be the most dominant and compelling arguments from contemporary epistemology, I do not take knowledge claims to require an infallible certainty to count as knowledge claims. As long as your belief is formed using reliable belief forming mechanisms and it has certain specifiable features which could defeat possible Gettier problems, it can be a knowledge claim and expressed and judged as such. It will actually be an instance of knowledge if in fact the belief is not only so reliably formed but is also true in fact. We can already claim to have knowledge even without an infallible ability to get outside of our minds and “go check” reality as long as we have sufficient reason to think our belief reliably enough formed to be confirmed as true were that possible (or even a coherent proposition).

Even if we can never conclusively be certain about the truth in fact, we can be (and in fact frequently are) in possession of knowledge about a great many matters.

Now, I may think that on a given point that I have only insufficient evidence for a given belief and yet think I have warrant to be more inclined than not towards it. I may not want to call this knowledge but still want to affirm it for the time being as a belief. If my evidence is below a certain threshold, then I’m having faith. If it’s above a certain threshold, it’s a justified belief, but if it does not meet certain standards of assurance, I might not call it knowledge. If it attains to a certain level of strong confidence, I hold it as a matter of knowledge.

This is all about how I hold the belief. I might be wrong to do so if I miscalculate the strength of the evidence, etc. I think, for example, that the gnostic theist is quite wrong to claim knowledge of the existence of God since I think they have badly assessed the evidence. However, their claim is a knowledge claim, not merely a claim to belief. This distinction matters pragmatically, even if not logically because what is in dispute is not only the truth or falsity of god claims but also whether knowledge is possible with respect to such matters. Maryann is wrong when she writes against calling the “gnostic theist” and the “gnostic atheist” gnostics by saying “we’re really just talking about what they believe, not what they know”. What we’re in fact really talking about is what they believe they know, not just the contents of their claims themselves. Do they believe they know or not? Are they right to believe they know or not? These are as important questions as the ones about whether their beliefs and knowledge claims are in fact, correct, since they’re important questions about the warrants of beliefs and the possibilities for knowledge.

So, for example, I would say that in my case, I am convinced enough that I can as easily dismiss Yahweh and the risen Christ as pure falsehood as I can dismiss Zeus, et al. as such. I KNOW these are fictional characters. There’s no doubt in my mind. Of course on some wildly unlikely possibility, I could be wrong. But I take that possibility to be as unlikely as the possibility that I do not actually have feet or but only dream that I do. Possible, but only an infinitesmally likely scenario. I feel confident therefore in saying I know I have feet and I know there are no personal gods who have intervened in history or been incarnated as humans and risen from the dead. These are closed questions as far as I am concerned. Just as closed as whether or not Spider-Man is a real, existent person.

Now, the question of whether or not there is some unitary, impersonal source of all being worth calling a “God” is a quite a different one. I am an agnostic about certain definitions of this because I can neither believe in them nor not believe in them while they are inadequately formulated. If I cannot understand what they really mean or why they might be real or not, then I can neither assent to belief nor say I do not believe but can only say, I really lack an opinion about them. In those cases, my agnosticism is an atheistic kind since while I do not know or even have enough sureness even for a tentative belief, my default position is suspension of affirmation in those proposed divine principles and, so, atheism. So with respect to thosespecific god postulates, I’m an agnostic atheist.

Some other formulations of what divinity is I would believe are false, believe I have sufficient reason to reject them, but be open to changing my mind and so be somewhere between strong belief and weak, revisable knowledge when I make claims rejecting those posits of divine being. When I reject claims about the existence of those proposed divine beings, I am not having “faith”, neither believing nor disbelieving beyond the evidence, but calibrating my beliefs and my knowledge claims to meet the evidence as best I understnad it.

Finally, there are ways to define the divine that might make it either an observably or likely real part of reality, in which case I might have either a strong belief or, even, knowledge that that does exist and for anyone who calls that “god” might be a theist of some sort as far as they are concerned. For example, if someone just means by “god” “reality considered as a totality” then, on their definition I know there is a god since I know there is a reality conceived of as a totality. But I don’t think that’s enough to call me in general a theist since I don’t think that’s what most people mean by a god!

So, in sum, some of what people mean by “God” I am a gnostic atheist about, I simply know it is not real just as I know super heroes are not real. Other things that people mean by God are so vaguely formulated by them or unclear to me for some other reason that I refrain from actively disbelieving and default to an agnostic atheism. Other things that people mean by God are likely false and so I either have a revisable but nonetheless strong (evidentially based, not faith-based) belief or, even, a knowledge that such “God” concepts are false. With respect to those God concepts I am pretty much a gnostic atheist, or a pistic one if you like—but for evidential reasons, not faith ones.

And, finally, what some people want to call “god” or “divine” are things I do think are real and so whatever kinds of theists they are, they might call me one of them for believing in those kinds of realities. I wouldn’t begrudge them that unless their equivocation on the word “god” led others to think I believed in more usual “god” concepts that I do not. So, I’m happy to say, for example, that if by “God” you mean what Spinoza meant by God then, I’m however tentatively and qualifiedly, at least very close to affirming the existence of God. But I worry that saying that would mislead people into thinking I meant I believed in all sorts of completely different “god” concepts that I simply do not. So, despite my deep affinities for Spinoza and inclinations he might be right, I would rather avoid the word “God” since it does not mean for the vast majority what it means for him (or, at least, I don’t think it means that for them).

But in a closing clarification, I think it is helpful to make the following distinctions in response to Maryann’s interesting provocations. I think we can say there are two kinds of agnostic atheists. Some that are apistic and some that are pistic agnostics. An apistic agnostic claims to neither know nor to believe anyway that there are no gods (or no god of a specific kind at issue in a specific case), but to lack both belief and knowledge either way and to be a default atheist on that account. The contrast with an apistic agnostic atheist would be a pistic agnostic atheist. This would be an agnostic atheist who thought that there was not sufficient evidence to know outright that there are no gods (or no god of a specific type at issue) but that nonetheless she believed that there were no gods (or no god of the specific type at issue). This sort of pistic agnostic atheist, would claim to lack knowledge but not lack belief.

We may make a further distinction between two kinds of pistic agnostic atheists. One kind of pistic agnostic atheist would think that there was preponderance of evidence in favor of believing in gods (or no god of a specific type at issue), such that belief in the non-existence of gods (or a specific proposed one) was justified but not so justified as to rise to the level of knowledge. I would not called this a faith position, but a qualified, tentative belief. Were a pistic agnostic atheist to think that the evidence for the non-existence of gods (or a specific god) was either insufficient or outright in favor of the existence of gods, then that would be a pistic agnostic atheist who actually had faith. I’m not sure if I’ve actually met anyone like this, but that’s what they would be like.

Your Thoughts?

__________________

For more on faith, read any or all posts in my “Disambiguating Faith” series (listed below) which strike you as interesting or whose titles indicate they might answer your own questions, concerns, or objections having read the post above.  It is unnecessary to read all the posts below to understand any given one. They are written to each stand on their own but also contribute to a long sustained argument if read all together.

Faith in a Comprehensive Nutshell

 

How Faith Poisons Religion

 

What About The Good Things People Call “Faith”? (Or “Why I Take Such A Strong Semantic Stand Against The Word Faith”)

 

How Religious Beliefs Become Specifically *Faith* Beliefs

 

Faith There’s A God vs. Faith In God

Trustworthiness, Loyalty, And Honesty

Faith As Loyally Trusting Those Insufficiently Proven To Be Trustworthy

Faith As Tradition

Blind Faith: How Faith Traditions Turn Trust Without Warrant Into A Test Of Loyalty

Faith As Tradition’s Advocate And Enforcer, Which Actively Opposes Merely Provisional Forms Of Trust

The Threatening Abomination Of The Faithless

Rational Beliefs, Rational Actions, And When It Is Rational To Act On What You Don’t Think Is True

Faith As Guessing

Are True Gut Feelings And Epiphanies Beliefs Justified By Faith?

Faith Is Neither Brainstorming, Hypothesizing, Nor Simply Reasoning Counter-Intuitively

Faith In The Sub-, Pre-, Or Un-conscious

Can Rationality Overcome Faith?

Faith As A Form Of Rationalization Unique To Religion

Faith As Deliberate Commitment To Rationalization

Heart Over Reason

Faith As Corruption Of Children’s Intellectual Judgment

Faith As Subjectivity Which Claims Objectivity

Faith Is Preconditioned By Doubt, But Precludes Serious Doubting

Soul Searching With Clergy Guy

Faith As Admirable Infinite Commitment For Finite Reasons

Maximal Self-Realization In Self-Obliteration: The Existential Paradox of Heroic Self-Sacrifice

How A Lack Of Belief In God May Differ From Various Kinds Of Beliefs That Gods Do Not Exist

Why Faith Is Unethical (Or “In Defense Of The Ethical Obligation To Always Proportion Belief To Evidence”

Not All Beliefs Held Without Certainty Are Faith Beliefs

Defending My Definition Of Faith As “Belief Or Trust Beyond Rational Warrant”

Implicit Faith

Agnostics Or Apistics?

The Evidence-Impervious Agnostic Theists

Faith Which Exploits Infinitesimal Probabilities As Openings For Strong Affirmations

Why You Cannot Prove Inductive Reasoning Is Faith-Based Reasoning But Instead Only Assert That By Faith

How Just Opposing Faith, In Principle, Means You Actually Don’t Have Faith, In Practice

Naturalism, Materialism, Empiricism, And Wrong, Weak, And Unsupported Beliefs Are All Not Necessarily Faith Positions

  • http://wazaghun.blogspot.com wazaghun

    “We may make a further distinction between two kinds of pistic agnostic atheists…….”

    You know i think sometimes we make the mistake to try to define something “to death” so to speak.

    I personally do not even see any sense in calling one atheist (despite formally qualifying for one according to the newer definitions found for example in wikipedia etc).

    I can understand why and how religious people take the term(s) and boldly accuse non religious people like me to actually be similar to theists and also believing in “something” once we use terms like “atheist”. Yeah … “ist” and “ism” sounds dogmatic no matter what stands in front of those 3 letters.

    Just as in science it is not normal to use terms for things that are not true we shouldn’t start labeling us by using a term for what we are not. Especially a term that was created BY theists in order to denounce a group of people.

    Just my thoughts. Guess i will have to formulate them a bit better and post them in my blog sometimes. Over the past weeks i repeated the stuff to often ;-)

  • http://www.petehoge.blogspot.com pete

    Not since my explorations of the
    nikayas, Siddartha’s discourses, have
    I read such wonderful understanding
    of ways of knowing truths.

    I admire your thought process., and
    that is why I keep reading.

    I identify as an agnostic in all things
    as much as I can because assumptions
    are dangerous in my experience….I
    understand what you are saying in terms
    of all the combinations but some of us
    have to keep it simple.

    I do have knowledge, but time and space
    are in flux, nothing is permanent. Being
    agnostic is simply recognizing the
    transitory nature of reality.

  • http://ethicalrealism.wordpress.com James Gray

    The word “knowledge” is a tricky word. As a philosopher I think that I “know” things that I don’t know that I know. I also think that I think I know things that I don’t really know. It’s much easier to talk about “justification” than “knowledge.” Knowledge is supposed to be a “justified true belief” but it’s hard to know for sure that a belief is true. I think this “knowledge” business is causing a lot of needless confusion. We have a greater interest in rationality rather than knowledge because it’s more modest.

    The word “justification” has various levels. Something can be “rationally required” or “rationally permissible” or “sufficiently rational” and so on. I think that “agnostic” tends to be someone who admits that a belief or it’s negation could be sufficiently rational. A gnostic theist would think that it is rationally required to be a theist, and a gnostic atheist would think that it was rationally required to be an atheist. The “proof” for one’s belief could be lacking either way, but given the current information one belief rather than the other could be rationally required.

  • http://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/belief-scale?ref=mf Maryann

    testing…if this works, take the belief scale poll my name links to…

  • http://www.examiner.com/apologetics-in-modesto/list-of-articles-on-evidence-for-god Maryann Spikes

    Pardon the delayed actual reply.

    A person who is very uncertain may prefer to claim to believe rather than to claim to know. However, one doesn’t need to “know with certainty” in order to know, and a claim to believe, is a claim to know. If you believe it, you think you know it.

    This is why it would be more useful to use the word “apistic” instead of agnostic, and “pistic” instead of gnostic (when comparing gnostic w/ apistic/agnostic), because,

    1) all knowing is believing, but not all believing is knowing,

    2) whereas a claim to know (to “be gnostic”) can be wrong, a claim to believe (to “be pistic”) is always right (unless of course they’re lying…some folks answered my poll above by saying they strongly believe in unicorns, for example, haha!), and

    3) the absence of belief (apisticism) is not the same thing as the absence of knowing (agnosticism)…knowing is a special type of believing (justified, true)…though, granted, the ‘gnostic’ (as opposed to agnostic) theist/atheist is merely gnostic because they make a “claim” to know, not because they necessarily DO ‘know’.

    4) belief can be blind, but knowledge (conscious knowledge, anyway) can not be blind. People can choose to believe, can “claim” to know, despite counter-evidence (have blind belief, blind faith), but people can not “actually” know despite counter-evidence (Gettier problem examples).

    It would prevent confusion if ‘gnostic’ only meant ‘know’ rather than ‘claiming to know’…which is really just believing. It would prevent confusion if a “believing” atheist/theist wasn’t called a “gnostic” atheist/theist–because, again, they could be wrong. Someone should only ever be called “gnostic” if they do know, and regardless of their “knowledge claims”.

    A theist lacks the belief “No god(s) exist(s)”–they think it is wrong, because they believe (are ‘pistic’ about) the alternative they think is right: “God(s) exist(s)”. An atheist lacks the belief “God(s) exist(s)” because they think it is wrong, they believe (are ‘pistic’ about) the alternative they think is right: “No god(s) exist(s)”. An agnostic (and, again, a better term for that would be apistic) does not believe, either way…defaulting to neither theism [lacking the belief "No god(s) exist(s)"] nor atheism [lacking the belief "God(s) exist(s)".]

    Similarly, a doubt always implies an alternative belief. If you doubt something, it is because you believe its alternative. This is also why the skeptic’s argument from error is self-defeating (relies on a ‘realist’ thesis), because…you can only ever be wrong about something, if you are right about the counter-evidence against it.

  • mikespeir

    I’m not quite sure how I’d place myself along this continuum. I call myself an atheist. I clearly don’t fit the definition (as I understand it) of “strong atheist,” in that I don’t claim to know that there’s no god beyond any shadow of a doubt. On the other hand, “weak atheist” doesn’t seem to fit either. I’m not just somebody who doesn’t believe in god. In fact, I’m pretty doggone sure there’s no god. As loathsome as it is to put it this way, I guess I’d have to admit that I “believe” there is no god. It’s just that I admit I don’t know it all and can’t know it all. I really and truly would be open to convincing evidence that there is a god. (I don’t see any reason to suspect that such evidence will ever be forthcoming. The history of the debate doesn’t point to anything promising.)

  • http://www.theswordandthesacrificephilosophy.blogspot.com Maryann Spikes

    Thanks for your honesty in admitting you believe, Mike. I’d say you are a strong atheist (as opposed to an omniscient atheist), though Dawkins would consider you a de facto atheist.

    Regarding being open to evidence, but not seeing any…either you have an inferior God concept which does not include that God is love, or you’ve not done your homework…love is not love w/o demonstration.

    Don’t rule out the entire record of that demonstration based solely on little things like folks taking poetry literally.

  • mikespeir

    There’s a third possibility, Maryann–that I’m right. I was a Christian until I was 48. Believe me, I didn’t leave because of “folks taking poetry literally.” In other words, don’t mistake me for some naive neophyte who hasn’t been exposed to “The Truth.” My “admission” that I believe there is no god should give you no comfort whatsoever. Nobody knows anything 100%. There will always be some tincture of “belief” involved. I’m pretty well convinced.

    Of course, if you can come up with convincing evidence to the contrary….

  • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

    A third possibility? Which two (besides “you’re right”) do you think I was presenting?

    You said you are open to being convinced by evidence, but that so far you haven’t seen any convincing evidence. (What, at 48, led you to determine this?) That only leaves two options:

    1. To you, there is no evidence yet that God has demonstrated a loving nature, indicating that God is “not” love, indicating that the evidence to which you are open, is evidence of a God unworthy (to me) of the title.
    2. You have not done your homework.

    Of course, I can not come up with convincing evidence that the whole world doesn’t already have access to, because if such evidence does not exist already (accessible to everyone), God is not love and therefore there is no God. If such evidence does exist, you don’t need me to present it–just take another look at it for yourself.

  • mikespeir

    That I’m right in believing there is no God? That doesn’t make sense as the third possibility?

    What led me to not seeing any convincing evidence? What a weird question. The simple answer is, perhaps, that there’s not any. I think I’ve seen most of what’s represented as evidence for God. Not only do I not find it convincing, it tends to be so underwhelming as to count more as evidence against. If you have anything new and revelatory, I’m all ears.

    Or, perhaps, you’re asking why I came to disbelieve at the late age of 48? What had me convinced until then but was somehow unconvincing later? That’s a fair question, but to answer it adequately would require quite some time. I grew up in the Faith. Introjects were instilled into me at a young age that, as with most people, I hardly noticed, much less questioned. But as I taught the Christian faith I came more and more to see the absurdity of the things I was pushing on people. In fact, I’m sure I had ceased to believe for quite some time before it finally dawned on me that I had. That leaves out a lot, I’m afraid, but it’ll have to do for now.

  • http://www.examiner.com/apologetics-in-modesto/list-of-articles-on-evidence-for-god Maryann Spikes

    If you click on my name it will get you to some of the evidence, which, again, cannot be new, or God is not love (and therefore not God).

    The whole subject of losing faith is relevant to this thread. New theories replace old ones, but that does not guarantee the truth (knowledge status) of the new theories…it is not unheard of that old theories are revisited after being abandoned. Again, I appreciate that you honestly admit the theory-status of atheism, rather than feigning it is an absence of theory (like agnosticism/apisticism). Refreshing.

  • mikespeir

    I’ll take a look.

    I’m not sure I’ve read or heard of anyone calling atheism an “absence of theory.” It’s an absence of belief in deity, for sure.

  • http://www.ichthus77.blogspot.com Maryann Spikes

    You said further up the page: “I’m not just somebody who doesn’t believe in god. In fact, I’m pretty doggone sure there’s no god. As loathsome as it is to put it this way, I guess I’d have to admit that I “believe” there is no god.”

    I’m probably not using the scientifically accepted use of the word theory, unless you use the word “science” the way Sam Harris uses it on the cover of “The Moral Landscape”. :-D

  • mikespeir

    Yes, that’s what I said and that’s what I meant. In other words, I see the likelihood that there’s a god as being so small that not only do I lack a belief in deity (which itself is a sufficient definition for atheism, in my opinion) but that I’m more or less convinced that god, gods, and goddesses don’t exist. This goes some distance toward “hard” or “positive” atheism. I just like to be careful to stress that I’m not completely closed to the notion of the divine.

    When you think about it, God would be a fascinating being. Forget space as the “final frontier.” The one who created it would be vastly more interesting. Why, if he could really be shown to exist, theology would finally become a legitimate field of study–even a science. I think that’d be cool! :-)

    However, don’t be misled by that. You must believe me that I feel not the slightest pull toward the Christian religion or any other. I have no yearning for God to exist. Not anymore. (What believers insist is a “God-shaped hole” in each of us is really a longing for security or, rather, an urge to escape our feelings of insecurity. God is merely one contrived means to that end.)

    That hasn’t always been true. For some time after my “deconversion” I continued to struggle. After all, by whole life had been built around the Christian religion. My friends and family believe. I remember times when I would lie in bed at night, look up into the darkened ceiling, and, sometimes with tears in my eyes, say, “God, if you really are there, I could still be convinced, you know!” Nothing came of it, because there was nothing to come of it. That lasted, oh, a year and a half. But it began to fade after a time. What peace, joy, and happiness I had had as a Christian were really only of my own device anyway, and now I found they began to flood back. To this day, whenever a Christian confronts me with the increasingly tiresome question, “How can you have any joy or purpose?” I’m always at a loss to respond. I am because I remember when I thought the same way: that meaning, happiness, and peace could only come by faith in Jesus Christ. No, not true! But I realize I’ll never be able to disabuse the believer of it. Words are wasted trying.

    Okay, now I’ve rambled. But that’s all right. It didn’t cost much. :-)

  • Leon De Smidt

    Mikespeir,I am a pastor of a small country church in South Africa and I have read your blog with tears in my eyes. I wonder if you asked if there was a god or if you asked GOD. I was also an unbeliever until HE, that is GOD, in the form of J C spoke to me. It was not an audible voice but a still small voice in my very sole. I asked Him to prove to me who He was as I could just as well have called on any god, but He proved to me that He, Jesus, was who He said He was. You see Mikespeir, when it is your time for Him to seek you out, you will know it. He is realy an ausome God and I recomend that you give Him another try. Hoping to hear from you again.

  • mikespeir

    Yes, Leon. That’s the answer to your question: yes. There was a time when I was saying the very same things you are saying. I’m suggesting to you that what you take as communion with God is not, in fact, communion with God. It’s merely a psychological phenomenon that you have been taught and choose to interpret as a spiritual manifestation. All kinds of people–the irreligious as well–have experiences like you have. We simply see no reason to inject the divine into the mix, basically because God isn’t necessary to explain these things.

  • http://www.theswordandthesacrificephilosophy.blogspot.com/ Maryann Spikes

    Mike,

    Pardon the delayed reply. Do you think studying God would be like science? What sort of experiments could discover more about God, which would be ‘repeatable’ and all that? I imagine it must be close to psychology, but using only one subject…and how would one perform a psychological experiment on an omniscient subject?

    Anyway. Of course the non-theist/Christian can “inject” his/her own meaning, but the fact that it is the “human condition” to ‘deal’ in meaning in the first place is a clue that there ‘is’ genuine meaning to satisfy that hunger. Not proof, no. But, a clue. Click on my name and check out Appendix B for what the “Four Horsemen” have to say about it.

    This has strayed way off topic. Again, thankyou for your honesty that you believe.

  • Leon De Smidt

    Hi Mike, thanks for comming back to me. I asked GOD to show me who He was as I could have gone to any religion or god, so He brought a man over my path who told me the following. All religions have a god of good and evil. The god of evil however only has a problem with one god, that is Jesus. The Satanist only targets Christian families, churches, pasters, etc. I asked him why and he answered that only Jesus could defeat him at the cross. No other god has the authority. “Have no other gods before me.” After proving this statement with ex satanists, I started to seek Him out. I can tell that you have a very cincere and genuine heart and if you would just be honest with GOD and ask him to reveal himself to you, and dont close your heart to Him ,He will show you his power and love and you will have what I have got. I also feel that you may have come out of a very religious background. That is not true christanity. Jesus had a problem with those guys. Find yourself a good penticostal friend and walk a path with them. Mike, I pray you would give yourself one more chance to be saved, set free and looking forward to a life long relationship with Jesus. God Bless You.

  • mikespeir

    I just happened to check in. I thought this thread had long since gone stale. I’ll suggest we be a little more prompt if you want to keep the discussion going.

    Maryann:

    I already gave the basis for my answer to you. For me to believe in God he would have to make himself as obvious as any other phenomenon that everyone of any religion or of no religion can agree upon. (The Sun appearing to rise, the sky being blue on a clear day, etc.) In other words, he would have to manifest himself in a way that no one could fail to perceive. That would pretty much demand he be available to the natural senses. Anything perceptible by the natural senses could, I suspect, be studied by science.

    But, frankly, I fail to see what you’re driving at here. Whether God could ever be “studyable” seems kind of irrelevant to issue.

    Leon:

    I told you. I’ve been there and done that. Really. You’re simply believing what makes you comfortable, and you take the comfort you derive from your religion as an indication that you’re on the right path. You interpret it as communication with God himself. I’m not buying it anymore.

    Look, I even had experiences I called visions. They were quite powerful when seen through the lens of my faith. The problem is, that lens was artificial. There are other lenses through which the matter is seen very differently. Some of those lenses make a lot more sense in light of the hard evidence. Now, as I said to Maryann, if you have some actual hard evidence that would support your beliefs, bring it out. I don’t mean to be nasty about it, but your “witness” means nothing to me. Again, I’ve been there. I also had a witness. I see things differently now.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers/ Camels With Hammers

    A lot of atheist blogs have rules against proselytization because of the way that proselytizers harass their atheist readership and make the blog comments tedious for them. We don’t have such rules here, but I would strongly encourage Maryann nonetheless to either make something resembling a philosophical argument besides making a vague and utterly meaningless appeal to look for God’s love which must have made itself known if it’s true or to please stop trying to convert her fellow readers. It’s annoying and unproductive.

    And Leon, if you don’t have anything more substantive to offer as an argument for your faith than good gods and evil gods and the fears of superstitious satanists, then you too should really just take your nonsense elsewhere.

  • Leon de smidt

    Hi Mike, thanks again for taking time to answer me. It looks as though big brother is not happy with me so I wont bother you any more. I can only give you the evidence of creation. Look at the sun, moon, stars and earth itself and tell me that it just happened. I can not accept that. I hope that you will find what we all want. Love, peace, joy and hope. I found mine. If you ever come to South Africa, look me up. GOD bless you. Leon.

  • mikespeir

    I doubt I’ll ever make it to South Africa, Leon, but I wish you the best.

    In the meantime, let me leave you with something to consider. The simple appearance of a phenomenon does not lead one ineluctably to the notion of deity. Yes, the Sun, Moon, stars, etc. are there. They’re wondrous things. I’m as fascinated by them as your are. But it’s non sequitur to point to their existence and exclaim, “Therefore, God!” That’s poor reasoning.

    There’s still a lot we can’t explain. There probably always will be. But that doesn’t justify erasing the question mark out of the blank and penciling in G-O-D. You see, I can just as easily erase the G-O-D and pencil in something else. First you need to show me that this God exists. Then and only then can we start in on a discussion about whether he might have had something to do with the Sun, the Moon, the stars, and so on. You’re getting the cart before the horse, so to speak.

  • Leon de smidt

    It would seem that God would have to bite you on the butt personally before you considder him at all. I do want to ask you one more question,” sorry Cammels with Hammers”. What do you base your belief or non belief on. I base mine on the Bible and the revelations I have received in my life time. When I look at my body alone, I must believe that someone or something brought it into being. I dont believe in the big bang as that is the most laughable nonsence I have ever heard. In a flash all life just started and reproduces and just carries on. I just find it impossible to believe in nothing when the evidence is all around us. Remember that faith itself is a gift. Love ye. Leon.

  • mikespeir

    Faith in the nonexistent is no gift, Leon. It’s delusion. God exists, you say? I see no reason to think so.

  • http://www.e30tech.com/forum/member.php?u=87699 Jeremy

    To ride shotgun.

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