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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
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The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
This book changed my life by making me realise THERE IS NO GOD, you probably know this deep inside but havent got around to realising it yet. If you believe in God or just maybe some magical spirit then please give this book a read!

ps, about 3 months after reading this i tried to explain all this to one of theose crazies that stop you on the street to talk about god... i gave up trying to reason with him after he started talking about the world being 6000 years old ... some people are beyond help
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 23:55, 46 replies)

What evidence do you have for this rather bold statement which even Richard Dawkins stops short of in his book?
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 0:14, closed)
Bindun, a thousand times bindun.

(, Thu 22 May 2008, 0:21, closed)
Boy, aren't you going to feel a right tit when you die...
...and God looks at you and says, "I don't exist, huh?"
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 0:26, closed)
Atheists amuse me.
When I point out that atheism is a faith with no more validity than Islam they invariably freak out and start howling at me.

Logic dictates that it's a moot point that can never be proven- but to the fundamentalist atheists that concept is as anathema as it is to fundamentalist Christians. It amuses the hell out of me to listen to the zealotry that comes out of them.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 2:23, closed)
Fundamentalist Atheists may be just as annoying as other fundamentalists...
only they happen to be right.

Look, the logic games are fun and all, but in real life, if there's no logical evidence to believe in something, and the best thing that that something has provided is false hope, and the worst is the deaths of tens of millions of people, it's a good and healthy thing to go ahead and say that that something, in this case God, does not exist.

Sure, God could say "I don't exist, eh?", upon our deaths, but the only response to that would be "What kind of fucking sadist are you? All good and all powerful eh? Right, have you seen the suffering amongst your creation lately?"

God does not exist, he's just Santa for grown ups.

I hate to tell you this Virginia, but there's no Santa and no God either, just 6 billion people on the only planet in the known universe capable of sustaining sentient life, so rather than hoping for a joyous afterlife, you'd better make this a nice world for yourself and those you love, because this is all we've got.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 4:13, closed)
Theists = 100% of Yawn
Saying "Atheism is a religion" and that it is just as much about belief shows that you have no understanding of Atheism, and are doomed to waste your life worshipping a god for which

a) there is no evidence
b) there is no evidence - and - most important of all
c) there is no evidence.

No, none, not a scrap. A few old books with a lot of gullible readers does not evidence make.

On top of that, an absence of belief in gods does not require the same justification as a belief. Look up "Russell's teapot" if you wish to grasp the concept.

What really worries alot of religious people - and I met one such person last night - is that atheists seem to get along just fine without gods. We do no better or worse than those of you who spend time looking for favours from your chosen sky monkey.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 4:13, closed)
Well this is going to be a barrel of laughs...
Predicted conversation:

"God doesn't exist! Here are some statements!"
"God exists! Here are some statements!"
"you probably know this deep inside but havent got around to realising it yet"
"you probably know this deep inside but havent got around to realising it yet"
"Theists are always trying to impose their views on people, and their views are so wrong! Let me try to convince you..."
"Atheists are...

Fuck it
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 4:25, closed)
you seem to be saying that it's only the religious types who say Atheism is a religion.

Here's an interesting thing for you:

I really don't believe in God, but I still think Atheism is a religion.

The difference between an Atheist and me is that because I don't believe in God, I very very rarely think about it, or hold any beliefs in conjunction with God, whether for or against.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 8:22, closed)
is a better term i prefer - especially with a name like "theManofScience"

The main difference between non-believers and 'crazies' is that non-believers are willing to listen to and reason the evidence given to them and hopefully make an informed judgement on the evidence and scientific fact - while 'crazies' have an old book that they NEVER DEVIATE FROM and it's TOTAL TRUTH NEVER TO BE ARGUED WITH - unless you want to rip a few followers off or interfer with some kids.

Religion doesn't cause wars, 'crazies' do.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:00, closed)
Oh, dear.
Look, folks: the onus isn't on the atheist to prove that there's no god, any more than it's on him to prove that there's no unicorn wearing an aqualung in orbit around Neptune. If you think that such a thing exists, then you need evidence. Absent evidence, it's not only permissible, but rationally demanded not to believe in it.

Atheism is not a faith or a religion: it's the rejection of faith. Nor is it just agnosticism with bells on, since agnosticism implies that the evidence is equivocal. It isn't. There is no evidence at all for any supernatural creature at all, let alone any god in the traditional sense.

Be fair, though: Dawkins is annoying. Still, he's largely right (if you ignore his moral arguments against religion, which are all rubbish).
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:17, closed)
LOL Atheism
Seriously; it's impossible to disprove something. Especially a matter of faith.

But there is an inherent problem in modern Atheism. Not only do they choose a select few texts upon which to base most of their beliefs, but they refuse to entertain the idea of them being wrong.

Theists: Believe THERE IS A GOD, will not listen to contradictory arguments.
Atheists: Believe THERE IS NO GOD, will not listen to contradictory arguments.
Agnostics: Don't believe in God, normally aren't interested in the arguments.

There is a distinct difference between an absence of belief, and a belief in absence.

For analogy time, I will mention I have a Box on my desk. But I won't tell you what- if anything- is in the Box.

Then I will laugh as the Christians KNOW what is in the Box. And the Muslims KNOW that the Box contains something else. And then, because there's no evidence that the Box contains what they say it contains, the Atheists will rush to declare their knowledge of the Box's emptiness.

And they will KNOW the Box is empty, with the same conviction that Christians KNOW that it contains whatever it contains.

Whereas the sane people will confess that they just, simply, don't know. Or, in all honesty, care all that much.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:20, closed)
See my reply above. The onus isn't on the atheist to disprove the existence of god - it's on the theist to prove it (or even to provide the most slender evidence).

You box analogy doesn't work - in that case, it'd make perfect sense to say that we don't know what's in the box. But there'd be nothing irrational about saying that, without further clues (shaking it, weighing it and so on), there's no reason to believe that there's anyting.

Really can't stick around today. Train to catch...
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:26, closed)
The apathetic agnostic approach
appeals to me.

Don't know. Don't care. What difference does it make?
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:32, closed)
Of course, Enzyme,
I disagree.

The onus is on anyone to prove their declarations of 'truth'.

Just because your declaration of 'truth' is based on an absence, doesn't make it any less so.

Your claim is just as ridiculous and baseless as that of the Mormons. And until any evidence is placed in any way proving or disproving anything, I'm going to remain highly sceptical of any claim of knowledge, understanding or even comprehension of anything supernatural, or lack thereof.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:32, closed)
@Vipros - Atheism is not a religion
Atheism is the umbrella to cover the thought processes that lead to a lack of beliefs in gods. It is no more a religion than pacifism.

You may not consider your atheism to define you; that's all well and good. It doesn't make it a religion, just something you are not concerned about on a day to day basis.

More vocal atheists are generally not those who are more passionate about their lack of belief (it is inherently something quite difficult to get passionate about) but those who are passionate about resisting religions impact on thier way of life. For example scientists who see religion attacking their work on false grounds; parents who cannot get their children into schools because they do not believe in a given faith.

Thiesm requires faith in in the existence of something unproven and unprovable. Atheism does not require faith and ergo is not a religion.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:33, closed)
I'd say I have to agree with the Thinker on this
Enzyme: while your arguments work with regard to most things - the box analogy particularly - religion is a different story.

it probably shouldn't be, but the way it seems to me, and to others judging by the above, is that an atheist has a belief that there is no God, and their belief can be just as strong as someone who believes there is.

It's kind of (but not quite) like saying, "No one has provided me with any evidence that the dodo existed, so I'm going to insist that it didn't exist until someone proves otherwise."

A kind of blinkered view. denying the possibility of something unless provided with evidence to the contrary.

edit: incrediblemonkeydoctor - I withdraw my comment that it is a religion. The trouble is, it depends on how you think of it. something that is never going to be the same person to person
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:37, closed)
My claim isn't baseless: it's Ockhamite parsimony. Absent evidence for the existence of something, intellectual good taste demands that we treat it as non-existent.

*runs for train*
*does believe in timetables*

@Vipros: The dodo point is exactly it. There is evidence that it existed - stuffed versions, testimony from first-hand witnesses, bones, and so on. Were there no such evidence, I'd be daft to believe in it for the same reason that I'd be daft to believe in the tooth fairy.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:37, closed)
@ Thinker
Find me one single case of the proven supernatural and I will gladly start questioning my lack of belief in the godly and otherworldy.

Your box analogy fails because no sane person, regardless of their faith, would be able to state with certainty what was in your box. Ooer.

Most atheists are making an evidence based decision on the existence of gods. Theists cannot provide ANY evidence, so they lack the persuasion to convince atheists to change sides, and resort to quoting the bible. Which is an epic fail.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:42, closed)
Woo for Thursday morning (A)Theology
Hope you get to your train, Enzyme!

I'll take this oppurtunity to say that I don't believe in God as defined by, say, Christian or Jewish thought.

By the same token, I don't know what's around the next corner. So I'm not going to declare that there's an Ice Cream van around the corner, nor that there's a unicorn. Nor, crucially, will I claim there's nothing. I'll just say I don't know.

That way I can't be wrong.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:43, closed)
Is there any merit in choosing to believe that God is within?
And not without, not a sky monkey (which is very funny btw thanks!).

I think most people choose to do the right thing in most circumstances. Or at least what they think is the right thing.

Is this not evidence for God within all(most) of us?

/*awaits backlash*
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:45, closed)
*delivers big dose of rationality to those in need*
It pains me to always agree with Enzyme about everything (except Cromwell) because it's boring but he and incrediblemonkeydoctor speak the truth logic: Russell's Teapot.

But then, everyone has their own fixed opinion on this and will ignore all others anyway (yes, myself included - unless you can produce evidence for a god/gods).
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:46, closed)
Very profound, Baz
Have you ever read "God's Debris", incidentally?

Here, as .pdf
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:47, closed)
Nah, can I get a summary or does it just totally depth charge my theory ?
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:51, closed)
bah, must stop getting sucked in
as neither atheist nor theist I don't particularly like having to argue any side of this, and yet I still do it...

while I agree fully with what Enzyme is saying (and I hope he gets his train) with regard to most things, my point is that this argument isn't like most things.

A lot of what we would apply our thoughts to can be solved with evidence one way or another, but this is a case where that is not going to happen either way. So there should be no argument for or against, just an acceptance that we aren't going to know until we die. Possibly.

I'm with k2k6 on whether God exists or not: Don't know, don't care, what does it matter.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:52, closed)
the fact that there isn't any evidence whatsoever doesn't suggest anything to you...?

*bores herself and falls asleep*
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:54, closed)
Russel's Teapot analogy only works if you declare a belief either way, either in favour or against the existence of said Teapot.

I don't think there's a teapot there. If there is, I'd be surprised. But I'm not going to declare that there simply isn't. It's unlikely; but not impossible.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:54, closed)
Oh, no, Baz,
God's Debris tends to agree with your idea, just adding a new angle to it.

It's summed up on Wikipedia
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:56, closed)
it suggests to me that there is no evidence.

The fact that there is no evidence does make me think that there is no god, but the fact that there is no evidence shouldn't make us discount the possibility that there is no god. that's what I'm saying.

lack of evidence isn't the same as the thing not existing.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:59, closed)
@Thinker - if you don't think there is a teapot there
why are you sitting on the fence? :)

Mmmm, tea.

*fills kettle*

@Vipros: no, but we have no evidence for plenty of other non-existent things...
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:59, closed)
ah sound so - I'm off to Avignon on Monday for a couple of weeks of farting about the Rhone Valley and getting posh-mashed. I'll try to read it before the liver assault. Cheers!
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 9:59, closed)
No evidence for other non-existent things
this is true.

More than the question at hand, I'm wondering why I've abandoned my normally sound capacity for scientific reasoning for this matter.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:02, closed)
Because one group saying
there is a teapot, and another group saying there isn't; neither of you know. And I don't want to agree with something until I have knowledge. If I don't know, I don't know. And not thinking is not the same as not knowing.

That said, I hope there is such a teapot, as it would mean tea would be more readily available in the emptiness of space. And tea simply must be made readily available.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:03, closed)
In that case Thinker then you are, in fact, an atheist yourself! Atheism is defined by the absence of belief in a god/gods NOT by the belief in the absence of a god.

The majority of atheists (Dawkins included) do not explicitly state that god does not exist. Rather they state that there is no reason to believe in it. Isn't that your position too?
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:03, closed)
Unfortunately, silene,
Atheism is a belief in absence.

Polytheism is a belief in many gods
[French polythéisme, from Greek polutheos, polytheistic : polu-, poly- + theos, god.]

Monotheism is a belief in one God [As above, with Mono meaning one]

And Atheism is a belief in no gods; not a lack of belief in gods.

The distinction is subtle, and a lot of people don't seem to realise it. Especially these people who'll run around declaring there is no God, and that I'm stupid for keeping an open mind on the matter.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:10, closed)
^ I believe in tea, if that helps
And now I too have a train to catch, so do get this little god vs. no god squabble sorted by the time I get back, good people. Toodlepip!
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:17, closed)
I feel left out,
what with everyone getting trains.

Ah, well, at least I've got this fresh cup of tea.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:26, closed)
That's your homunculus, that is
cos God loves tea.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:27, closed)
Funnily enough
I got the train to work this morning too. But only because my car's being fixed. Again.

It was on time though. Must have been God's doing.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:32, closed)
it's more of a debate
on whether there is definitely not a god. doesn't seem like anyone here is on the side of religion...

I believe in tea, but I mainly believe that too many people have been too reliant on it for too long!
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:34, closed)
As you say theism is the belief in gods (modified by various prefixes depending on your views on the nature of god(s)).
'a-' as a prefix, means 'not' or 'without'. i.e. 'atheist' describes one who does not have a belief in god; NOT one who believes in the absence of god. That is a pretty standard definition.

To suggest that atheism requires a belief in the absence of a god is like suggesting that 'amoral' is the same as 'immoral'. 'a-' means 'without', not 'the opposite of'.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:37, closed)
you're right, I was mistaken.

Still, hasn't stopped OP from making the leap from an absence of belief, to a belief in- and, indeed, declaration of- absence of God or Gods.

And taking it further, to declare that everyone that disagrees is WRONG.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:40, closed)
@ thinker
you're slighty wrong about the definition of atheism. It can be either a lack of a belief in a god or a specific belief in no god.

People confuse this because of a misunderstandnig of what an agnostic is, and think that "lack of belief in a god" is agnosticism, not a form of atheism.

It's not. agnosticism has nothing at all to do with religion, except that not believing in a god would be an agnostic thought pattern.

an agnostic doesn't accept the existence of anything outside their direct person experiences. For example, I've never seen Peru, therefore it doesn't exist. It's not related to religion except by inference.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 10:41, closed)
For me, the foundation for atheism is quite simple. All religious faith/belief is subjective - people believe in a multitude of things and deities, and most claim that theirs is the one true system. Their reasons for doing so may be personal, cultural or 'rational' .

They can't all be right - but they can all be wrong. True, atheism itself is a kind of belief and also subjective. But it doesn't - or shouldn't - traffic in absolutes and evangelism of its own. The safest and most rational response to the unexplained is simply "I don't know."

EDIT: there is plenty of proof that a person called Jesus existed and died. True, the evidence that he rose again is somewhat biased, but if you are going to distrust this 'historical' evidence, how much of the rest of history do we trust?
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 11:20, closed)
Atheistic scientists would say that all avalaible evidence points to the lack of existence of any kind of higher power. It's not an absolute in the same way that gravity, relativity or quantum theory aren't absolute, simply the best model for the evidence. Even Dawkins freely admits he'd change his mind in the face of evidence. But a scientific atheist would say "there's no god" in the same way they'd say "DNA is a double-helix chemical structure" or "gravity is what stops us floating away". It's not an absolute, just the best possible explanation for the evidence.

Edit - and we traffic in evangelical behaviour in defence of all theories. If a physics teacher was teaching an alternative theory of gravity that was purely based on a several-thousand year old storybook and no evidence, I'd want to stop that. Same for intelligent design. Or the teaching of religion to children as fact. It doesn't "merit equal consideration as a theory" because it's not a theory. It's a hypothesis with not one single shred of evidence in its favour.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 11:33, closed)
What d'you mean theres no tooth fairy? Cos I've got empirical evidence of a large sum of cash under me pillow and what tastes like elf j-eism on me tongue this morning.
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 11:42, closed)
ah, the familiar tang
of Elf jism. It's a bit like a Wham bar - remember those?
(, Thu 22 May 2008, 11:44, closed)

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