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Posted: 01 September 2012 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hy, everyone!
    I am a new member and first I would like to say I am very happy to have found a place whose philosophy is so much like mine. Let me start by saying I consider myself a skeptic agnostic. Even though I do not believe in the existence of any deity, I cannot call myself an atheist simply because my personal and professional (I am a scientist) honesty does not allow me to assert something (the non-existence of deities) which I cannot prove. This, of course, may be nothing more than a case of semantics getting in my way! I am looking forward to learning a lot from you guys and hope to be able to contribute a fair share.
    Hector (hpcaban)

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Posted: 01 September 2012 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome aboard Hector. Chime in anytime you like.  cool smile

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Posted: 01 September 2012 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome, Hector.  As a fellow scientist, I see that most of the data we gather we call theories, not laws because we recognize that there’s almost always a chance that some new information will modify our ideas.  However, I don’t bother calling myself an agnostic about everything because of lack of absolute proof.  Rather, when I feel the probability of something appears to be well above 99%, I round off and consider it as what I believe.  As such, I’m not what seems to be called a “hard atheist” - one who says “There ain’t no god, and I said it so I believe it.”  Rather I consider myself a “soft atheist” - I don’t believe in the existence of any god or other supernatural being or phenomena, and I’m willing to bet my life on it smile , however, I won’t waste my time standing toe to toe with a theist and attempting to prove my beliefs.

Occam

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Posted: 01 September 2012 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Welcome Hector,

Looking forward to your posts.

May I ask about your area of expertise?

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Posted: 02 September 2012 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Occam:

    I share your aversion to the words “laws of physics” simply because, to me, “law” implies an inviolability that runs contrary to a scientist attitude that any evidence that contradicts a “law” renders the “law” invalid. Let me explain a bit about my position on atheism and agnosticism. To me an atheist is he who denies the existence of God. And to deny is to assert there is no God. I certainly do not believe in the existence of any God but since I cannot prove this I wont assert it, therefore, by definition, I am not an atheist. On the other hand, I have no doubt about the non-existence of God but since I cannot be an atheist I have no choice but to call myself an agnostic. Actually, I call myself a skeptic agnostic, the word skeptic stressing the fact that I do not believe in the existence of a God. I feel forced to make this distinction since I have been led to believe that many people use the word “agnostic” to describe a person who cannot decide wether to believe or not. I just want to make it very clear that this is not my case!
    I hope I have clarified why I call myself a skeptic agnostic and not an atheist.

Héctor

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Posted: 02 September 2012 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Post4U:

    Formally I have a Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering but my field of expertise and research is actually in Solid State Physics. I see myself as a physicist/mathematician rather than as an engineer. I taught electrical engineering for 38 years at the University of Puerto Rico (Mayaguez Campus) but have been retired for 17 years now.

Héctor

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Posted: 02 September 2012 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I understand your position Hector.  I use the word “atheist” because almost no one understood when I would say I was a non-theist.  You may consider the problem my girlfriend posed when I was a freshman at UCLA 64 years ago.  She asked in order, if I believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.  When I answered negatively to each question,she then asked if I believed in god.  I answered that she knew I was an agnostic.  Her final question was, “Then why aren’t you an agnostic about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny?”

It appears that we are near the same age.

Occam

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Posted: 02 September 2012 07:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Occam:

    I really enjoyed your story about the question your girlfriend posed to you when you were a freshman at UCLA. Very perceptive girl! Your anecdote made me realize that perhaps I have been a bit overly punctilious in my position on wether to describe myself as an atheist or an agnostic and a reassesment is in order. I started by looking up the definition of atheist in a dictionary and found it to be someone who denies God. I guess I could stretch the semantics involved a little and interpret that definition to mean that I remain the way I was born, that is, a non-believer until I find either evidence or arguments that convince me to think otherwise, that is, an atheist. Of course, the only thing that has really changed is my definition of atheist! I hope I have made my position a bit clearer! By the way, your story reminded me of the argument first made by Sir Bertrand Russell about a teapot in orbit between the orbits of Earth and Mars. Even the most powerful telescopes on earth would not be able to proof or disproof his assertion, however, no person in his or her right mind would actually believe such a teapot to exist! I have made essentially the same argument when talking to a believer. I would say: “If I assert that one hundred miles beneath your home there is a diamond the size of a Volkswagen, would you believe me? Can you prove to me such a diamond does not exist? Then I do not have to prove that God doesn’t exist either in order not to believe in his existence.”
    As for my age, I am seventy five.

Héctor

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Posted: 03 September 2012 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Welcome Hector.  Glad to have you here.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 03 September 2012 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hector, you may want to check the write-up on atheist in Wikipedia.  It is quite comprehensive and discusses a number of definitions and variations with many references.  You may come close to “weak atheist” or “implicit atheist”.

Occam

P.S.  I’ll be seven years (round 0) older than you in three weeks. smile

[ Edited: 03 September 2012 12:35 PM by Occam. ]
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Posted: 03 September 2012 03:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 03 September 2012 12:33 PM

Hector, you may want to check the write-up on atheist in Wikipedia.  It is quite comprehensive and discusses a number of definitions and variations with many references.  You may come close to “weak atheist” or “implicit atheist”.

Occam

P.S.  I’ll be seven years (round 0) older than you in three weeks. smile

I consider myself a weak/implicit atheist.  Sometimes I call myself an agnostic atheist even, but for the most part, I just call myself a humanist, without clarifying what exactly I do or don’t believe.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 03 September 2012 07:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Write4U, Occam, and Mriana:

    Thanks so much for your warm welcome. As I am sure you have seen from my posts, while I am quite certain about my beliefs (or lack thereof), I am still struggling to find a correct and concise adjective to describe my position as to those beliefs. Thanks, Occam, for your suggestion about using Wikipedia for a more expanded definition of atheism. I shall certainly investigate that venue. Thanks also to Mriana for suggesting possible descriptions of myself in this regard. I will get back to you as soon as I have a clearer understanding of all the adjectives that may apply. Thanks again.

    Turning to other matters, I am interested in knowing more details about how you came to believe what you do now. In my case, I was about 9 years old when I realized I could no longer trust whatever the adults in my life told me because sometimes they did not really know and sometimes they simply lied. I decided then that from then on I would have to rely on my own understanding of things. I fully realized I would make mistakes but I felt that even in that case they would be MY mistakes and not someone else mistakes and I felt ready for that eventuality. Of course, at the time, being a child, I believed in such things as “truth” and “ultimate reality”. Now, of course, I realize both are, at best, very ellusive concepts. I shall refer to this period of my life as my “awakening”. I learned to read and then to write at a very early age (3 1/2) and discovered that my father had a fairly extensive library which fostered in me a love for reading. There were many chemistry books (my father was a druggist), but, surprisingly, there were many books that were appropriate to my level of understanding like Aesopos Fables, etc. There was a bible written for children and that one I devoured in no time. This, then, and what my parents told me was the source of my religious upbringing.  Anyway, one of the first casualties of my “awakening” was religion. The more I thought about it the more unbelievable the whole concept of God, angels, spirits, souls and anything supernatural seemed. I didn’t discuss this with anyone out of fear about what their reaction might be. Of course, many years have gone by and my objections to these spiritual concepts have matured along the way. Now, my main objections to religious beliefs are not only the absolute absence of evidence and/or arguments to sustain them but the sheer improbability of such extraordinary claims as the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, infinitely perfect intelligence capable of creating the universe as we observe it to be and yet interested and involved in our lives!

    This, in a nutshell, is the story of my present beliefs. I would very much appreciate to learn about your own stories.

Héctor

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Posted: 03 September 2012 09:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Due to my lack of formal higher education, I try to analyze a problem from it’s basic concepts.
As far as I understand the structure of the universe, there is a certain fundamental interconnectedness (branes, observed laws of physics, etc). This may even include certain metaphysical aspects, such as described by David Bohm in his theory of Implicate and Explicate.
This matrix may even have a form of pseudo intelligence (like a computer), but the notion that this “wholeness” is a sentient, willful, supernatural god is a leftover from the dawn of hominid intelligence and to me it is noting more than subjective fantasy from ignorance.

In any case, there is no compelling case for the introduction of a supernatural being. IMO, that is ridiculous on the face of it. Whatever happens in the universe is natural and in accordance with strict laws of physics.

I find it interesting that the only miracles (non natural interferences) in scripture happened a long time ago and were identified as such by ignorant sheepherders and the like. The modern miracles seem to consist of a face in a cloud, or a smudge on a window, an image in a potato. 

But no one seems to notice the miracle of fractals which are present everywhere and may well be a fundamental aspect of spacetime. Perhaps a natural result of the interaction of the branes.

I dare not go further lest I get into deep quicksand….. cheese, but I view myself as an atheist in the scriptural sense.

[ Edited: 03 September 2012 09:45 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 September 2012 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Write4U:

    You say you view yourself as an “atheist in the scriptural sense”. As you may have gathered from my posts, I am struggling to find my niche as far as adjectives to describe my own position are concerned, so I find your words rather interesting. Could you please expound on your concept of atheism in the scriptural sense?

Héctor

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Posted: 04 September 2012 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I smiled at the similarities in our histories.  I’ve written mine here earlier, but this is a short summary:  My mother taught me to read very early by sitting me on her lap and reading me fairytales and mythologies.  At four I saw a number of Santa Clauses and realized they were fake, however, rather than thinking adults were lying, I decided they were too dumb to recognize the falsity.  When given a child’s bible at seven, I loved it because it was one more set of fairytales.  We lived close to a library but no other kids so I spent much time there, reading.  It didn’t even occur to me that any god was not a myth.  At twelve I read about atheism, agnosticism and the scientific method.  The last led me to choosing agnostic.  I loved the chemistry books, and found a nearby druggist who was willing to sell me a good variety of chemicals to play with.  First came the pyrotechnics, then practical applications, and more generic experiments.  Fortunately my highschool friends were interested in sciences (physics & electronics) and politics, but none of us had any interest in religion so it wasn’t even discussed.

Occam

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Posted: 04 September 2012 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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hpcaban - 04 September 2012 09:55 AM

Write4U:

    You say you view yourself as an “atheist in the scriptural sense”. As you may have gathered from my posts, I am struggling to find my niche as far as adjectives to describe my own position are concerned, so I find your words rather interesting. Could you please expound on your concept of atheism in the scriptural sense?

Héctor

I don’t know enough about string theory to definitively say there is a Matrix of some sort (10 or 11 dimensions) which make our reality appear as it does to us. While the theory is still young and sketchy, after all we cannot observe all these dimensions, I can accept a multi dimensional universe. The latest propositions are saying that “empty space” (nothingness) is not really empty, but consists of several branes (super string theory), a chaotic soup where vibrating string like virtual particles are created and destroyed.
I mentioned David Bohm’s very intriguing theory of the Implicate and Explicate.
http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/science/david_bohm.htm#CONTENTS:

One thing is sure that that scripture cannot be taken literal as an authoritative science reference and consists mainlay of parables and morality messages.  Based on the information given, it is clear that the stories of Creation and Intelligent Desin are very much like that early Alpha chimp who saw and experienced a fear of the “unknown” and set out to protect his troup from this “angry thundergod”.
This early belief turned into ritual to appease the wrath of the “invisible god” who should be kept happy lest disasters happen.

Scripture cannot be taken as any kind of reliable science. Thus my scriptural atheism, but metaphysical naturalism.

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