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Evangelical Atheism

"Let us gather and praise the glory of our godlessness."
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(+9, -5)
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(Personal note: I'm an agnostic.)

Evangelical Christians in the United States often gather in megachurches to hear the overwrought sermons of celebrity preachers who dramatically praise the Lord, and solicit generous donations in order to further God's glory. I suggest a similar movement among atheists to unify the nonbelievers' movement and help strengthen their credo.

Once every week, atheists of all types gather in a large auditorium, drably decorated so as not to look like a cathedral in any way. Then a speaker comes on stage and dramatically speaks of science and philosophy, and of the latest advances in human knowledge. The speaker is overcome with emotional joy for the glory of logic and the secular way. Profoundly affected by the philosopher's speech, the attending atheists willingly fling their money into large boxes, which are shipped directly to scientific labs in order to fund research.

The atheists then return to their godless lives and feel the power of a certain faith course through them: the faith in humankind's ability to gain and consider knowledge.

DrWorm, May 09 2011

Leicester Secular Society http://www.leiceste...ularsociety.org.uk/
Really, really baked right here, right now. [nineteenthly, May 09 2011]

Pharyngula http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
Biology blog that may be the most raucous atheist gathering on the web. [baconbrain, May 09 2011]

Nine Lessons & Carols for the Godless http://newhumanist....-for-godless-people
Baked. I've been to one. It was a hoot. [DrBob, May 10 2011]

The Atheist Experience http://www.atheist-...rience.com/archive/
Archive of their TV shows going back over 10 years [simonj, May 11 2011]

TED (as mentioned by [pashute]) http://www.ted.com/
Widely known to exist [squeak, May 16 2011]

Atheist church http://video.adults...atheist-church.html
from Metalocalypse [jaksplat, Jun 26 2011]

[link]






       Several secular humanist "congregations" exist in order to provide the social aspects of a religion without the religous ones.
MechE, May 09 2011
  

       // Profoundly affected by the philosopher's speech, the attending atheists willingly fling their money into large boxes, which are shipped directly to scientific labs in order to fund research. //   

       Amen to that idea!   

       Would the halfbakery then be considered an offshoot cult?
RayfordSteele, May 09 2011
  

       This is absolutely baked here in Leicester at the Secular Society, except that the building we meet in (yes, i'm a Christian member of the Secular Society) is quite nice - William Morris. This is exactly what we do otherwise. We have a weekly speaker on science or philosophy, there is passionate approval, people make donations then and there and it is used for such purposes as you describe (along with other things such as supporting asylum seekers). I've even given talks there myself on philosophy. We have links with the local Sceptics and my ex-girlfriend's stuff.   

       Incidentally, i've always assumed this was a normal thing in most Western cities. Are you telling me it's not?
nineteenthly, May 09 2011
  

       Hm. Perhaps it is. I'm quite ignorant of these matters; your Society sounds absolutely amazing.   

       [MechE]: I feel as if the social aspect is a secondary benefit for many who attend evangelist sermons. From what I understand, they can be a profound religious experience, although I've never been and probably never will.   

       So, [+] to [nineteenthly]'s Secular Society, and Baked for this idea.
DrWorm, May 09 2011
  

       It might not be baked everywhere though. Maybe we should have missionaries.
nineteenthly, May 09 2011
  

       Strikes me as odd to associate with others based on a mutual disbelief.
tatterdemalion, May 09 2011
  

       Strikes me as odd to associate with others based on a mutual delusion.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, May 09 2011
  

       Hey, somebody struck me!
normzone, May 09 2011
  

       // Strikes me as odd to associate with others based on a mutual disbelief. //   

       Well, I associate with other atheists based mostly on the characteristics we have in common that led us to atheism. (Honesty, intellect and science, for instance (sexual magnificence isn't really required).) And there's the common experience of being atheist in an allegedly Christian country, and the struggle to deal with that. And they are fun people, mostly (yeah, some have gone soggy under the strain).   

       I hang out at Pharyngula using a different moniker. Make a visit sometime.
baconbrain, May 09 2011
  

       //Pharyngula // are you sure? that site name would scare me off.
po, May 09 2011
  

       //Pharyngula // is an old apothecary's term for scrofula.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 09 2011
  

       //scrofula.// are you sure? that medication would scare me off.
po, May 09 2011
  

       [po] Would you like it better by its old name: the Kings Evil?
mouseposture, May 10 2011
  

       no.
po, May 10 2011
  

       I feel you jest.   

       I would say atheism is a positive belief in the sense that it's a belief that there is no God, not lack of belief in God. So it's not a disbelief or an assumption but a specific opinion. I know that's an unpopular belief in certain atheist circles, but many people simply have no strong views on the existence or otherwise of a deity.   

       I also think that the claim that everyone is born an atheist seems to assume that neonates have opinions rather than being brainstem-dominated animals without active cerebral cortices. So in what sense are they atheist? Or, excitingly, are opinions outside the mind? Go on, get me started on that again.
nineteenthly, May 10 2011
  

       No one should be evangelical about anything. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that ...
hippo, May 10 2011
  

       I feel passionately that you're both right.
nineteenthly, May 10 2011
  

       Oh, go and burn some bibles, the lot of you.
infidel, May 10 2011
  

       TED
pashute, May 10 2011
  

       I can't help but wonder though; if the result of all this non-diefied critical thinking actually leads to definitive proof of the existence of God, will atheists then cling to their disbelief as adamantly as religious zealots now cling to belief?   

       That won't happen because neutrality is an illusion. Both sides are going to stay entrenched and closed to the opinions of the other and there will be very few people in the middle.
nineteenthly, May 11 2011
  

       To answer 2 fries' question, and accepting the proposition for the sake of argument, as an atheist I would obviously have to change my mind about the existence of a god in the face of incontrivertible proof but I certainly wouldn't be rushing off to church afterwards!

My suspicion is that if an actual, real god did suddenly turn up it would discomfort the world's religious leaders rather more than it would the atheists!
DrBob, May 11 2011
  

       Some time ago, I posted "Fundamental Atheism" as an idea. It caused a ridiculous argument and I deleted it.   

       As an atheist pagan (replace 'god' with 'nature' and you're almost there) my point in that idea was to illustrate the deliniation between the religious (those who believe in something without evidence, be it the existence or non-existence of a god) and the non-religious.   

       What this idea proposes is a religion of believers in the non-existence of god.   

       As a non-believer in the existence of god (spot the difference!) I would not be attracted to such an organisation.   

       I also have to disagree with the defenition of atheism as belief that there is no god. Atheism is the absence of belief in a god.
Twizz, May 11 2011
  

       Then all dead people are atheists.
rcarty, May 11 2011
  

       I can't help but wonder. That 5-word sentence just about sums it up for me. In fact, the tidier someone makes or tries to make the proof one way or the other, the more curious I'll be about what's swept under the rug.
RayfordSteele, May 11 2011
  

       All dead people are indeed atheists. They are also T-total non-smoking and celibut, but none of this helps.   

       Rayford - I couldn't agree more. I'm always interested to hear what new (or old) evidence or philosophies arise, although most of them say more about their proponents than they do about the subject.
Twizz, May 11 2011
  

       I can't remember who said it, but there's a quote to the effect that no reasoning ever convinces someone of the falsity of a position which that person did not convince themselves of through reason. So, if someone just believes something, you won't get them to stop believing purely through reasoned argument.
hippo, May 11 2011
  

       Twizz, My point was rather that a good definition should preclude dead people. I agree with 19thly observation that atheists have a positive belief. The belief is first introduced then either affirmed or negated. A person without any knowledge of God, or no strong feeling one way or the other is not an atheist just as a corpse is not an atheist, nor is a sleeping person, or a person with advanced dementia.
rcarty, May 11 2011
  

       All dead people are atheists? Don't tell the Christians & the Muslims. They'll be terribly upset.
DrBob, May 11 2011
  

       Although i don't feel strongly about theism vs. atheism per se, i do feel strongly about the definition of atheism. Lack of belief in God is not atheism, though the former includes the latter. Atheism is the presence of a belief that there is no God. If a theist were to claim all people who lack belief in the non-existence of God, it would be silly and inflammatory. Come to think of it, there are people who do that. Agnosticism is a perfectly good word for the absence of both beliefs.
nineteenthly, May 11 2011
  

       I agree. As I said, I'm an agnostic—specifically an apathetic agnostic—and it's not just that I believe that there is no god. I don't think it's an answerable question, and thus I don't really care. I also don't think that religious beliefs should interfere with progress or science.
DrWorm, May 11 2011
  

       Either way the first schism has formed in the Evangelical Atheists with some believing that atheism is belief in no god, while others contend there is no belief in god. Although some from each side are willing to admit that their belief in no god or no belief in god somewhat stems from no belief in god, or belief in no god.
rcarty, May 11 2011
  

       What is someone who believes there is no evidence that there is a god, and therefore, most likely there is not god, but is perfectly willing to accept evidence to the contrary if such can be produced?
MechE, May 11 2011
  

       Faith, like hopeful confidence, does not have to have any particular object of attachment or method or construct or even a particular belief. 'A faith,' on the otherhand, is a terribly confused term that mixes a theism construct with the above.   

       You're on the halfbakery and worried about sharing space with nutters?
RayfordSteele, May 11 2011
  

       [DrWorm], i'm wondering if you're theologically non-cognitivist, i.e. you hold that religious claims are neither true nor false but simply make no sense at all, like saying that colourless green ideas sleep furiously or something.   

       It always strikes me as odd that discussions about theism vs. atheism rarely seem to consider that possibility. They generally seem to assume that it actually makes sense to talk about God at all rather than whether it's not even wrong.
nineteenthly, May 11 2011
  

       I expect the Japanese have a less painful way of saying it, [Ian]. Maybe "mushinronsha" according to my rather crappy dictionary here.   

       Strictly speaking, i suppose to me atheism is the opinion that there is no consciousness whose existence does not depend on the world. I would say physical world, but i wouldn't know what to include in that.
nineteenthly, May 11 2011
  

       Not sure children are physical. For instance, i knew what my son's name was nineteen years before he was born, and back then his component atoms were scattered across the planet, in the atmosphere, the oceans and various fields.
nineteenthly, May 11 2011
  

       Theism - belief in a diety or deities, therefore Atheism - absence of such belief.
Twizz, May 12 2011
  

       what if he'd been a girl, [19thly]?
po, May 12 2011
  

       //Greece has become a...a scapegoat//

I don't see that, at all. The Greeks (with German collusion) bent the rules as far as possible in order to get into the Euro club, even though their economy wasn't up to the task, then they accepted a financial bail-out under terms that they couldn't fulfill and now they are testing the water to see how the Euro club would react to a debt default. I don't see Greece, the country & government, as a victim in this at all. Actual Greek people is a different matter of course.
DrBob, May 12 2011
  

       The Euro club, it should be noted, bent the rules as much as could be bent, as well.
RayfordSteele, May 13 2011
  

       //Theism - belief in a diety or deities, therefore Atheism - absence of such belief//   

       So then, belief in no god would be... antitheism? Or is that belief against god...
ye_river_xiv, May 13 2011
  

       Anti - oppose, against; theism - belief in god.   

       Against those who believe in god, closer. Antitheism is the view that belief in god (aka religion) is harmful. Often associated with atheism, but one does not need to be atheist to be antitheist.
tatterdemalion, May 13 2011
  

       [Po], that's sort of what i mean. At the risk of opening the whole can of worms again, people seem to me to be abstract objects existing in a sort of Platonic world of forms rather than lumps of matter with consciousness. So my son would still have existed in that sense, just as my third child would, who is called Sophie Gray, was born on thirteenth November 'ninety-nine, has friends and even her own Facebook account (which she shouldn't really have because she's underage), but also has the minor and largely irrelevant attribute of never having actually existed. She isn't instantiated, but that's not the most important detail about her life. She even has an imaginary friend.   

       "And you know, God's like that."
nineteenthly, May 13 2011
  

       still not quite sure what you're getting at, 19 but then its early ...   

       I know my cousin only exists because I was such a beautiful baby (apparently).
po, May 13 2011
  

       [nineteenthly] People are Platonic forms but cabbages are lumps of matter? What's special about people?
mouseposture, May 13 2011
  

       Cabbages are not necessarily lumps of matter. People are more likely to be fictional. There are relatively few novels or poems with vegetables as protagonists, though they do exist, for instance Star Maker, Parallel Botany and Day Of The Triffids. That's the difference. If there were lots of imaginary vegetables, they would have the same status as people, and although there are indeed multitudinous theoretical vegetables, we rarely channel them. Some would claim, however, that my income depends on imaginary vegetables, or at least misconceived ones, particularly when i suggest to patients that they address their ailments by imagining the taste of their remedies rather than actually prescribing them.   

       In my youth, i rarely if ever contemplated growing a specific cabbage in the late 'nineties. The same does not apply to [eleventeenthly].
nineteenthly, May 13 2011
  

       I'm beginning to suspect that the world [nineteenthly] lives in is only connected to the world I live in via the Halfbakery.   

       "Halfbakery - a portal between alternate realities"
Twizz, May 13 2011
  

       [19] you might not think of such things, but you don't know what cabbages think.
pocmloc, May 13 2011
  

       I wouldn't say it was just esoteric philosophy remarks or that it's solely a HB thing. I have noticed how much people differ from me but am trying to give up being an attention-grabbing drama queen about it.   

       As for "facetious remarks", my mind is always paralysed by that word due to the full sequence of vowels it contains, though i appreciate your helpful omission of the "I".   

       I suppose what i'm sort of saying is that people are software, i.e. the human brain and society can run more sophisticated programs than a field of cabbages can, so we each have a set of social roles and images which are not directly connected to the brute physical facts of our biology, though their existence is dependent on those facts. I'm aware there are information processing capabilities in other biological communities, for instance the ability of trees to send chemical warning signals to each other when attacked by pests, but i also feel our ability as a whole species to process information is greater than that of most others on this planet.   

       And one of those programs or entities we run as a species is God. We also run unicorns and FSMs.   

       Does that make sense?
nineteenthly, May 13 2011
  

       Nice metaphor.
nineteenthly, May 13 2011
  

       //There are relatively few novels or poems with vegetables as protagonists// But there are lots of novels, and probably even some poems, with vegetables. What's special about protagonists? Whatever it is, I suspect it's the same thing that's special about people. Does rephrasing the question in that way gets us anywhere? Maybe so. Try this on for size:   

       I think what you might be saying is that there is something which it is like to be a person, ditto a protagonist, but there is nothing that it is like to be a cabbage (pace [pocmloc]). Thus real people are, in one important sense, very similar to fictional people -- more similar than they are to real cabbages.
mouseposture, May 13 2011
  

       I detest organised religion, regardless of the non- existence of the deity they claim to believe in.   

       How can you celebrate atheism? It is the lack of belief of something. It is not the belief in science and philosophy.   

       Having been to MENSA meetings, I assume it would be just as tedious.
marklar, May 14 2011
  

       [Bigsleep], i was saying the opposite. People can dream and make up stories, and so forth, and they can be characters in stories. What's special about living human bodies is that they can generally support that kind of thing and cabbages can't. Another thing they support is personas and roles interacting in societies and they can transmit culture through time to a greater extent than other species known to them.   

       As it happens, i do think there is probably something it's like to be a cabbage, because i can't account for consciousness other than by assuming it to be an essential property of matter, but the consciousness of a cabbage is not significantly different than that of a stone and very nearly a mere conceit.   

       [Marklar], i completely agree that atheism needn't be associated with science. I always think of Jains in this kind of discussion. Strongly, evangelistically atheist but having a philosophy which is really not very similar to scientific realism at all. I do have to repeat, though, that atheism is a specific belief, that there is no being which exists independently of the Universe, and not a lack of belief, which would include agnosticism.
nineteenthly, May 14 2011
  

       Good point, as it happens. That's something i know i believe: that i lack belief in certain things.
nineteenthly, May 14 2011
  

       It's entirely possible to believe, or accept the possibility of a creator -- in the sense of a physicist inflating a new bubble universe, for instance, or a programmer creating a complex simulation -- and still be an atheist.   

       In the latter scenario, one can easily imagine an omniscient, omnipotent creator, at least within it's domain, and still be an atheist.   

       It's the belief in a specific myth, coupled with the desire for worship that makes a "theist". The atheist does not simply "disbelieve". The true atheist rejects at a fundamental level. Where a miracle to manifest itself to me, I would presume the "programmer" scenario, and not be moved to a desire to worship. Were I moved to a desire to worhip, I would (the current I, anyway) be moved to disgust.
theircompetitor, May 14 2011
  

       However, as i've mentioned before there could be a flying electric spaghetti monster, i.e. a being of some kind could create a universe of some kind. To my mind, a bubble universe is part of the Universe. One thing i find interesting is what a real multiverse would do to the idea of God, because then, might there not be a world in which God doesn't exist? That would be a problem for a theist because God would then not be omnipresent or omnipotent, but not for an atheist because the kind of God who would exist in a possible world wouldn't have power over this one. Then again, it might simply be that the concept of God is incoherent and that God cannot exist in any possible world, or even that it's necessary in an Ontological "Proof" kind of way.
nineteenthly, May 15 2011
  

       hmmmmmm, I'm considering having an imaginary vegetable friend. wonder what it should be?
po, May 15 2011
  

       We generally operate in life without proof. Proof applies only to logic, mathematics and possibly to phenomenology. Everything else is either confidently believed to be true or is not disproven, or is disproven or not believed to be true. There are also degrees of belief.   

       I see no connection between the possible existence of God and the idea of a first cause. If the belief in God depended on God being a first cause, that would negate creation ex nihilo because it would entail God being subject to the passage of time, i.e. not the cause of time. That kind of God can therefore be practically disproven on logical grounds.   

       God can be minimally defined as consciousness independent of the existence of the physical attributes of the Universe. That's a necessary condition for God as i understand the term, i.e. in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, though pantheism might allow a different definition. Also, it could be argued that the kind of necessary condition i mention is logically incoherent because consciousness cannot exist with no physical basis.
nineteenthly, May 15 2011
  

       //is there a significant difference between what is thought of and what is possible to think of?// The former is somewhat smaller.
pocmloc, May 15 2011
  

       //it could be argued// Agree with [IT]. Intuitively plausible, but who cares about that? Let's hear the argument*.   

       [pocmloc] Nope. Cardinality of infinities, and all that. Edit: Oh, right, I see what you mean.   

       *May be an unfair request, if you're a platonist.
mouseposture, May 15 2011
  

       I was assuming that the number of things that was thought of is finite, given a finite number of brains and a finite time since they evolved.
pocmloc, May 15 2011
  

       Memes require hosts, but but not the immortality of any given host -- such that the meme of the biblical God's existence has been with us for a few thousand years, and certainly does exist, while the biblical God does not.   

       [pocmloc], presuming an infinite universe that assertion may not be correct -- it would be a smaller infinity, but an infinity nonetheless.   

       In fact, given the fact that there is a multiple of ideas per brain, it may not be smaller.
theircompetitor, May 15 2011
  

       How does an infinite universe change things? Whether the number of ideas thought is finite or infinite, and no matter how many happen at once in any given brain, then it seems to me that for every idea thought there are a large (or infinite) number of possible, similar but unthought ideas. So therefore the number of possible ideas is larger? Different types of infinity is not one of my strong points.
pocmloc, May 15 2011
  

       //it would be a smaller infinity// Oh, so? What cardinalities would you assign to those two infinities?   

       [pocmloc] //for every idea thought there are a large (or infinite) number of possible, similar but unthought ideas// For every integer, there is an infinite number of rational numbers. And yet the infinity of integers is not smaller than the infinity of rational numbers. Now, if the number of ideas thought is *finite* then you're right, the number of un-thought ideas is greater.
mouseposture, May 15 2011
  

       //One thing i find interesting is what a real multiverse would do to the idea of God, because then, might there not be a world in which God doesn't exist? //   

       A true infinite multiverse would have universes which contain no life and so no concept of a creator at all.
If there is a creator then this lack of recognition would be irrelevant to its existence.
  

       Going off on a barely connected myth tangent here, I don't know much about religions other than what I was taught in Sunday school and what I've been able to glean since finding the webternet but the common theme seems centered around this Creator and first man and woman. It is even part of the native foklore here.   

       They all agree that first man/woman were perfect.
Just for the sake of argument let's assume it is true and we somehow kept the memory alive through countless generations.
The evolutionary findings show this little story to be a load of crap but, again just for argument sake, say it's true anyway.
If these two specimens were 'perfect' genetically. I mean they'd have no diseases and they would be immortal barring any accidents.
How many generations of inbreeding would it take for perfect specimens' descendants to devolve to an animal-like state? and would it be possible to re-evolve once a large enough dna pool was established?
  

       In an infinite multiverse it has to have happened at least once right?
<smacks improbability-drive button>
  

       //How many generations of inbreeding// If they were perfect, they had no harmful recessive genes, and no amount of inbreeding will accomplish that.   

       Recessive genes in Adam/Eve is like a modern version of the old argument about whether they had navels.
mouseposture, May 15 2011
  

       //If they were perfect, they had no harmful recessive genes, and no amount of inbreeding will accomplish that.//   

       But would their offspring have been perfect?   

       Given that genes tend to have copy errors, successive breeding permutations may in fact produce some imperfections.
RayfordSteele, May 15 2011
  

       I'd go just to see the snakehandling Lack-of-Faith Healer work his magic, while speaking in the Language of Physics.
thumbwax, May 15 2011
  

       Yep. Don't drop the snakes... little fuckers bite when gravity does its thing.
infidel, May 15 2011
  

       //But would their offspring have been perfect?// Perhaps not, but that couldn't result from inbreeding. From mutation, maybe. However, in the presence of selection pressure, mutation wouldn't produce a steady downward drift into an animal-like state (if by that you mean something worse than human). Of course they could evolve into something perfectly adapted to an ecological niche, but no longer human, or even conscious, or even necessarily multicellular.   

       Of course, we might regard the Garden of Eden as a place without selection pressure.
mouseposture, May 15 2011
  

       Thanks, [mp], for your infinite wisdom.   

       As for the garden of Eden, I always thought it was the strangest story. Yhvh creates the garden, and in it he puts the 2 trees, the 2 people and the serpent. He tells the people not to eat the fruit of the tree, or they will die. But they don't know good or evil, so how can they decide what's best to do? Then the serpent tells them that Yhvh is lying, and that they won't die. So they eat the first fruit, and then they know good and evil. The serpent was right, they don't die. Then Yhvh panics, he says to himself that if they eat the second tree's fruit they will become immortal and just like him (thus letting slip that the people were mortal all among). So he punishes them horribly and kicks them out, along with the serpent. Moral: the people were stupid but it was not their fault, they were made that way. Yhvh was a manipulative liar and a bad loser. The serpent was right all along.   

       As for the genes, didn't Adam and Eve's offspring marry women from the neighbouring tribes?
pocmloc, May 15 2011
  

       Where did the neighbouring tribes come from then?   

       // As for the garden of Eden, I always thought it was the strangest story. //   

       I agree, [pocmloc], and am appreciating the writing there.
baconbrain, May 15 2011
  

       Not all dead people. It turns out Tut has a second life (meanwhile)   

       Long live James Randi forever.   

       (They're doing a scientific experiment on that line with Arik Sharon)
pashute, May 16 2011
  

       // Where did the neighbouring tribes come from then? //   

       A parallel universe?
nineteenthly, May 16 2011
  

       Of course not. Parallel universes don't intersect. Must have been an orthogonal universe.
mouseposture, May 17 2011
  

       To be insane for a second, or rather to change the record, backwards time travel is not parallel to time lines or it would be impossible.
nineteenthly, May 17 2011
  

       Why not ? Atoms and molecules are stable enough that they wouldn't spontaneously explode or something just because they're running backwards in time... you might look a bit strange as you pass people, walking backwards on the sidewalk then mumbling "em esucxe" after you'd passed.
FlyingToaster, May 17 2011
  

       Because something would have to rule out paradoxes. You can't move forwards faster than the speed of light, so you can't move backwards more slowly than the reverse speed of light. Therefore, whereas a light cone extending into the future must contain your world line, a light cone extending into the past must not contain your world line or it would allow paradoxes. That applies to the normal four-dimensional universe. However, if parallel timelines are considered as separated from this one by extra dimensions (of which there would have to be at least two) rather than simply being completely isolated from this one in a way which is hard to conceive and possibly incoherent, the problem of paradoxes could be addressed by assuming that travel backwards in time is not parallel to the world line but also moves in at least one other dimension, so when information travels backwards, it enters a parallel timeline rather than the past of the world line whence it originates.   

       But that's not a sensible way of thinking on the whole because it's utterly idle speculation and a serious waste of time (or maybe space).
nineteenthly, May 17 2011
  

       That's part of what i'm saying. The butterfly was always going to be squashed and is in any case not the one in our past, but someone else's. The problem with that thought is that the same event has a different cause unless there are special timelines which only exist for time travellers to enter.   

       I also think we're simultaneously in several timelines and only narrow them down when we observe something which is different in different timelines.
nineteenthly, May 17 2011
  

       the "lightcone" thing is understandable, but then it wouldn't be "parallel universes", more "parallel locales", ie: way the hell off in Arcturus a quark burps itself into spinning in two different directions, but the whole universe doesn't immediately split off.   

       On second thought I believe in FTL so substitute "event sequence" for "lightcone". If that quark happened to be entangled with another one somewhere else....
FlyingToaster, May 17 2011
  

       Nice idea, [19th]
pocmloc, May 17 2011
  

       //that atheism is a specific belief, that there is no being which exists independently of the Universe// [nineteenthly]   

       You assume that the existence of god is the null hypothesis. For practical porpoises in society this is the case, but clearly not the basis of reasoned logic.   

       Atheism is knowing* there is no god, agnosticism is thinking there probably isn't a god but there might be.   

       *Semantically, I think you can say other people believe something, but not that you believe it. If you believe something, you know it to be true.   

       [Edit] I've always found it funny when people say "I believe in God" without adding "the existence of". Go for it God, you can do it!
marklar, May 17 2011
  

       "If you believe something, you know it to be true."   

       Perhaps this is the source of confusion WRT the definition of atheism.   

       While those who believe have sufficient confidence in their belief to say that they know, those who do not believe can only say that they do not know the subject to be true.   

       This is clearly distinct from knowing something not to be true.   

       Thus we have the definition of atheism offered by believers, whose standpoint is that atheism is another belief.   

       We also have the definition of atheism offered by non believers, whose standpoint is that atheism is not a belief.   

       While I fall into the second category, I can see how the first has come about.
Twizz, May 17 2011
  

       Knowledge is generally, though not always, belief combined with the impossibility of rational doubt. Most statements of the form "X knows that Y" which are actually made are false. There are of course an infinite number of knowable facts but it's rare to refer to them explicitly.   

       We don't know there isn't an invisible gorilla in every room but we do believe that, on the whole, and we can believe it confidently.   

       Concerning the light cone thing, sorry, i was not making it clear at all. My thought is that travel backwards in time would not be associated with paradoxes if it also entailed being too far from anything which could influence one from the moment of one's departure, which means that travelling back one year must also move one a minimum of a light year away from one's starting position. However, i've just realised that's wrong. One would in fact have to be at least twice that distance because one might have moved from the same position at almost the speed of light. Clearly if FTL is possible that whole idea would be screwed.   

       The thing about parallel timelines is a bit different. It's more that if that bit above fails, for instance if FTL is possible, another possible solution is that travelling backwards in time would be to a different time line, which i think is not exactly a parallel universe because it makes as much sense to think of different timelines as being arranged as a continuum with at least two dimensions. Two because three mutually incompatible events of exactly the same irreducible probability would otherwise occupy the same timeline.   

       All of this is of course at least completely idle speculation and i may even have managed to push it beyond that into more than one hundred percent idle.
nineteenthly, May 17 2011
  

       I know, intellectually, that time exists, but in my heart, I don't really *believe* in it. (This has been a serious lifelong handicap.) The inverse of someone who believes in a diety, but knows, intellectually, that none exists.
mouseposture, May 17 2011
  

       Consider: Zerotheism.   

       Re time. I think of time as a mechanism our brains use to put events in order. I would agree with Ian Tindale that time does not exist, at least as a seperate entity.
Twizz, May 18 2011
  

       I assume (don't think the idea's original, but can't recall the source) that "I" am my consciousness, not my brain, and that, since my consciousness is a state of my brain, it's associated with a particular instant. So, although my brain, like other physical objects, has extent in time, my consciousness does not. (Obvious problem for personal identity here. I tend to the opinion that there's really no such thing.) No wonder I find time perplexing. I'm even more puzzled, though, by the fact that other people seem to find it quite straightforward. I'm pretty sure they're wrong, but I've never been able to convince anyone.
mouseposture, May 19 2011
  

       Err...dunno.
DrBob, Jun 24 2011
  

       All the problems of world are caused by invisible molecuels which came from an asteroid. It is true. Other wise how do you explain all these worlds problems ?
VJW, Jun 24 2011
  

       The passage of time is like the difference between left and right.
nineteenthly, Jun 26 2011
  

       Time doesn't pass. It sweeps us all before it, helpless on the wavefront of the primordial explosion.
baconbrain, Jun 26 2011
  

       @ [Mouseposture]   

       Anyone who claims that anything is simple almost certainly has no understanding of it.   

       Everything is evidently complex when you start to look into it. The deeper you look, the more complex it gets, until you reach quantum physics, where it looks like it might get simple again. This is where the real trouble starts.
Twizz, Jun 27 2011
  

       Yeah, the simplest things can be understood, with difficulty, by just a few very bright people. Complicated things are easier.
mouseposture, Jun 27 2011
  
      
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