Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My only post on religion

I am an atheist, but I don't want this to turn into an "atheist blog". I'd rather it be a science, music, or even technology blog because those are things that interest me, and so this is the only post I shall ever make regarding my views on religion (though I reserve the right to mock it at any point in time, for any reason).

The whole problem of religion is that there are many things people mean by the word "god", I can think of at least 3 that seem to cover most cases:

  1. Abrahamanic style god: this is what most people in America believe in. He (noticeably is usually a he) is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, but likes to take part in some mass genocide from time to time.

  2. The philosopher's god: this is what is believed by everything from deists to pantheists (those that aren't atheists anyways). This entity is kind of fuzzy and ill defined, and is totally untestable with science, but doesn't cause miracles or care about what goes on in your underpants, and as a matter of fact does just about nothing by design.

  3. Pagan gods: for example the greek gods, or shinto gods or the goddess of the wiccans. These are really just beings fantastically more powerful than us, but not perfect, or all knowing (much less all powerful: considering how much they fight they would have done serious damage)

Gods in the sense of 2 are totally untestable, and while I'm technically an agnostic when it comes to these ideas, I find them totally unmoving and useless, but I can't prove that they don't exist. Gods in the sense of 3, I don't think we have ever seen any evidence of, but they aren't out of the question, there could be a race of aliens so powerful so as to be like gods to us (the whole stargate movie and tv show are based on this idea), but I can say pretty confidently that we've never run into them. Gods in the sense of 1 though, the sense most common in much of the world, I think are proven to not exist (we would expect a very different world from the one we see if a giant guy in the sky was in charge of everything), and as a matter of fact are probably a logical contradiction.

Religions based off of gods in the first sense I think are absolutely harmful to humanity (I think the examples usually given aren't the best, sure the crusades and basically the whole history of the middle east kind of suck, but people always find an excuse to kill each other, the fundamental area where religion has hurt people has been in the field of women's rights). Religions based around 3 are similar to those based around 1, but tend to be less virulently bad. And there are no real religions based on 2, mostly because they are an intellectual exercise meant to keep the person believing in them able to call themselves a theist, while cutting down on the cognitive dissonance from the blatant disagreement with science.

To summarize: I'm a strong atheist in the sense of 1, and agnostic in the sense of 2, and a weak atheist (we just haven't seen them) in the sense of 3.

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