Back To School


There’s lots to prepare for (from packing to reading through several papers and I also want to get to the book Neuroanatomy Through Clinical Cases, as I heard it’s the best book to learn neurological localization, which is fundamental in clinical practice in neurology), and I’ll get some traveling in, too.

Meanwhile, here is an article on The Fear Of Religion. It is written by my favorite living philosopher, Thomas Nagel. He is an atheist and a professor of philosophy. He is most famous for his work on the philosophy of mind (e.g. What Is It Like To Be A Bat, Mind And Cosmos). I became interested in neuroscience and am considering either neurology or neurosurgery as specialties because of Prof. Nagel, and others, too, including Eric Kandel and Oliver Sacks.

Atheists Can Be Religious, Too


Syntheism is a new religious movement focused on how atheists and pantheists can achieve the same feelings of community and awe experienced in traditional theistic religions.[1] The Syntheist Movement sees itself as the practical realization of a philosophical ambition for a new religion dating back as far as Baruch Spinoza’s pantheism in the 17th century and, most directly, British-American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead’s pioneering work towards a process theology in his books Religion in the Making in 1926 and Process and Reality in 1929.[2][3]

Syntheism may also be viewed as a response to the lack of atheistic and pantheistic belief systems in Western cultures, while being more abundant in Eastern cultures, for example as Zen Buddhism, Dzogchen Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism.[4]

American theoretical biologist and complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman published a syntheist manifesto called Reinventing The Sacred in 2010.[13] In it, he calls for an emergentism beyond traditional scientific reductionism towards a new syntheist spirituality. American philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris published Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion in 2014. In this book, Harris promotes a syntheistic, post-atheist spirituality beyond traditional religion, especially beyond the Abrahamic faiths, inspired by Buddhism and the Indian philosophical school of Advaita Vedanta. Harris advocates the search for a love and happiness that transcends cause and effect – which he claims to have found in deep meditation and during psychedelic experiences – while entirely set within a monist and immanent universe.[14] Both Kauffman and Harris are widely quoted as inspirations for the foundation of The Syntheist Movement.[15]

Arkenaten Is Tacitly Supporting Stupidity


The problem you face is that, by having Christian philosophical theist leanings you are tacitly supporting stupidity.


I lean towards philosophical theism. Philosophical theism does overlap with Christian theism, but it also overlaps Jewish theism, Muslim theism, some Hindu and Buddhist theisms. Philosophical theism overlaps with other major religions of the world and some ancient religions that we have forgotten about, too.

But philosophical theism is also distinct from Christian theism (and other religious theisms). If I become a deist (I’m open to it), then deism is different from Christian theism. One difference is Christian theism normally posits a personal creator who is involved with his creation, but deism normally posits a creator that does not get involved with his/her/its creation. Traditional Christians would strongly disagree with deism. A second example is Platonic theism, which arrived long before Christianity. Other examples are the philosophical theisms of scientists and mathematicians like Carl Friedrich Gauss, Kurt Godel, Max Planck, Roger Penrose, and Martin Gardner. Same with other intelligent men like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Anthony Flew. The latter was an atheist who became a philosophical theist near the end of his life.

Interestingly atheism overlaps with some religions such as Hinduism (Nāstika schools), Buddhism (Theravada schools), Jainism, Satanism, Syntheism, Raëlism, Neopaganism (including Wicca), other pantheistic religions which believe the universe is all there is. In fact, there are even atheistic versions of Christianity such as Nontheist Quakers! Arkenaten believes religion in general including Christianity is stupid. Hence, I could equally tell Arkenaten that “by having atheistic leanings you are tacitly supporting stupidity”! 🙂

Arkenaten Unravels

Arkenaten asked me some questions,

And where is the problem with this?
It is exactly what A-theism is. The lack of belief in gods. Period.

Nowhere in the definition provided does it say atheism is the “lack of belief in gods.” Here is the definition again: “Atheism is the rejection of theism: a-theism. Atheists maintain some or all of the following claims: that theism is false; that theism is unbelievable; that theism is rationally unacceptable; that theism is morally unacceptable.”

Maybe Arky isn’t aware lots of atheists claim atheism is non-belief rather than disbelief. They do this as an avoidance tactic. If atheism is disbelief, then it is a claim that one disbelieves in theism, hence one needs to argue for their claim. However if atheism is non-belief, then it is not a claim, it is just a “lack of belief,” so no one needs to argue for a non-belief or lack of belief. It avoids the necessity of arguing for the claim that God does not exist.

It is simply a response to the claim from theists.
It has no content, no worldview, merely a complete rejection of what the theist claims.

Arky is confused. He mixes both definitions of atheism together. Sometimes Arky believes atheism is lack of belief in theism saying atheism “has no content, no worldview,” but other times Arky believes atheism is the “complete rejection” of theism which does have “content.”

However if Arky is arguing for BOTH definitions at the same time, then it includes the definition of atheism as a “rejection” of theism, which is the stronger definition, hence it is the definition I’ll consider. That is because it is usually better to address the stronger definition of a term rather than the weaker one.

The stronger definition for atheism that I provided involves claims. Claims need to be argued for. Hence a claim such as “theism is false” needs to be argued for. That means atheists need to argue for the claim that “theism is false.” The most intelligent atheists have no problem with this, and they do argue for atheism. But fundamentalist atheists like Arkenaten (and others like tildbe) prefer to avoid or deflect.

Now it is simply a question of whether the theist can defend the claim – with verifiable evidence.

Sure, the theist must defend their theism, but likewise the atheism must defend their atheism.

To date not a single scrap of evidence in this regard has been forthcoming.

That’s because Arky will only accept scientific “empirical” evidence for theism. He won’t accept philosophical arguments (ontological arguments, cosmological arguments, teleological arguments, many others). Philosophical arguments for theism have counter-arguments against theism or for atheism, but Arky isn’t even willing to consider philosophical arguments. In short, reasonable arguments for theism exist if only Arky could be open-minded.

If you truly believe you can trump every theist to date, then please, feel free to present your evidence.

I never claimed that I “can trump every theist to date.” No idea where Arky got that.

As the saying goes -. Put up or Push off.

I’ve been over this ground with Arky multiple times in previous threads, but Arky pretends like I’ve never tried to answer his questions before. The truth is that there’s no evidence or argument that would ever satisfy Arky. Arky would immediately dismiss any reasonable argument that’s provided because Arky only accepts empirical evidence. But that is like using a metal detector to try to detect non-metals. Empirical science is able to detect “metal,” but empirical science is unable to detect “non-metals.”

Besides, I’m not confident Arky would be able to grasp a reasonable argument for theism even if it was directly in front of him. Arky is good at taking common militant atheist arguments and regurgitating these arguments, but Arky is not an independent thinker. Arky is a parrot of militant atheism, while Tildeb (another atheist I’ve debated) is a more independent thinker who sometimes has his own original thoughts and ideas. Though I strongly disagree with tildeb’s thoughts and ideas, at least they are not completely dependent on regurgitating other people’s ideas. Not to say tildeb never regurgitates militant atheism points, and tildeb often acts like a fundamentalist atheist, too, but at least tildeb isn’t usually as senseless as Arky. Arky writes better than tildeb, but that is probably not saying much because most people write better than tildeb (clearer, less convoluted, more concisely).

Atheism Vs. Theism

I know there are theistic arguments AGAINST atheism (e.g. the inability to ground morality). (negative arguments against atheism)

I know there are theistic arguments FOR theism (e.g. cosmological arguments). (positive arguments for theism)

I know there are atheistic arguments AGAINST theism (e.g. the problem of evil). (negative arguments against theism)

However I don’t know if there atheistic arguments FOR atheism? (positive arguments for atheism?)

If there are, what are they? The argument from silence? But it’s not much of a positive argument when it’s about absence rather than presence.



You are being ridiculous. You are behaving like a fundamentalist Christian: creating a lot of sophisticated-sounding BS to prop up a silly argument.

Well Gary, that’s where your logic fails you. I’m responding to the claim that atheism is non-belief in theism. Frankly, that’s a stupid claim. By stupid I mean it lacks intelligence or intellectual rigor. Instead, I proposed a stronger claim. I proposed atheism is disbelief in theism (and other claims). That is a better claim. And it is a claim that you agree with based on what you say next! So how am I behaving like a “fundamentalist Christian” if I am proposing a stronger and more intellectually rigorous and honest definition for atheism and one that you agree with, too? Are you also behaving like a fundamentalist Christian? You’re illogical here Gary.

I am an a-unicornist because I do not believe that unicorns exist.

See, this is an intellectually more robust (and honest) claim. It parallels the definition of atheism as “I do not believe that god or gods exist.”

I do not need evidence to not believe in the existence of unicorns just as I do not need evidence to not believe in fairies, leprechauns, and goblins.

That’s only because everyone ALREADY AGREES these are mythical creatures. They don’t exist. But what if we replaced unicorns with horses? Then if someone is claiming they don’t need evidence to not believe in the existence of horses, then that’s stupid. My point is when you are arguing with a theist about the existence of God, you can’t just assume everyone ALREADY AGREES God doesn’t exist. That’s what the argument is over.

The burden of proof regarding the existence or non-existence of these entities lies with the proponents of the existence of these entities. Period. And the same goes for the claimed existence of spirits (gods) and devils. Period.

You’re just behaving irrationally Gary. You’re talking out of your upset emotions, not thinking clearly. Again, what if I used the example of horses, dogs, cats, and mice instead of unicorns, fairies, leprechauns, and goblins? That changes everything. You’re just cherrypicking intentionally silly examples to parallel theism. But theists don’t see it that way. Theists don’t think “God” is an abstract theoretical (mythical) object, but that “God” is a concrete object. Although some theists might argue “God” is an abstract object like numbers are.

The burden of proof lies on both sides. The atheist and the theist both bear their own burdens of proof. Thta’s because anyone making a claim or counter-claim bears a burden of proof. It’s not only the proponent, but also the opponent of the claim that bears a burden of proof. Or else I could say “dogs do not exist,” I am making a negative claim, and because I am making a negative claim, I do not bear any burden at all to prove that “dogs do not exist.” It is only up to the person who says “dogs exist” that bears the burden of proof. That’s silly.

An a-theist does not believe in the existence of invisible spirits (gods). Period. No evidence required to hold this position. Period.

That’s a better definition than atheism as non-belief.

If I were Tildeb I would not waste another second of time arguing with you regarding this silly issue.

It sounds good to me if Tildeb stops arguing with me. 🙂

Is Atheism Non-Belief?


No such thing, Nils. Furthermore, it makes no sense. There is no such thing as a non belief belief, just as there is no such thing as a non fish fish or a non bicycle bicycle.

That only works on your definition of atheism as non-belief, which is simple-minded.

As I’ve already pointed out to you, rocks have the property of non-belief regarding theism. Hence rocks are atheists just like you. Fish have non-belief regarding theism. Hence fish are atheists just like you. Monkeys have non-belief regarding theism. Hence monkeys are atheists just like you.

Rocks and perhaps fish may not be able to form beliefs. But monkeys can form beliefs about themselves, about other monkeys, about their external world, and a lot more. So you’re saying you’re no different than a monkey when it comes to your atheism?

Also, where’s the empirical “evidence” that atheism is non-belief? It’s just your bald assertion at this point.

A better definition of atheism is atheism as disbelief in theism. Or atheism as the rejection of theism. Or atheism as the claim that theism is false. Or atheism as the claim that theism is unbelieveable. Or atheism as the claim that theism is unreasonable. Any of these would be more intelligent than atheism as non-belief or the lack of belief.

Some atheists have even argued atheism entails nihilism. If so, then what I’ve said follows.

What on earth could it possibly mean to say something has a property of non belief? Again, that’s incoherent. It only makes sense if you ASSIGN a property. You certainly can’t extract one!
By linguistic rule, placing an a- in front of something is how we negate what follows. We’ve been over this but you don;t learn! What does theism mean? It means, “Belief in the existence of a god or gods” (OED). What is the negation of this term? A-theism, meaning non belief in the existence of a god or gods. You’re trying to change this linguistic rule to serve a purpose other than what’s true. The evidence for this rule, Nils, is in the language we share. I’m not warping anything. You are. You are ASSIGNING to the term ‘properties’ that simply are not there! That you refuse to wrap your head around this brute fact is not of my doing and claiming it is makes you look petulant and whining. My advice for you is to stop abusing the language to serve your partisan desires if you wish to have your ideas and opinions treated with respect rather than much earned disdain.

1) It’s funny to see how badly you’ve missed the forest for the trees. You certainly didn’t reply to the meat of what I’ve said. Rather, you hyper focused on a single (philosophical) use of the term property.

But let’s ignore that. Instead, let’s agree for argument’s sake that atheism is non-belief. Atheism is not a claim or argument or positive statement about anything. It’s just non-belief or a lack of belief. Therefore, because atheism is not a claim or agument about anything, then there’s nothing to say about atheism. Atheism is neither true or false. It’s just a lack of belief.

It’s like a lack of belief or non-belief about gnomes. I do not claim “gnomes do not exist.” I do not claim “I do not believe in gnomes.” I’m just an agnomist. I have non-belief about the existence of gnomes. I lack belief about the existence of gnomes. The existence of gnomes is neither true or false to me.

Therefore atheism doesn’t claim anything. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s not true or false. It’s just . . . meaningless.

No one that’s in their right mind would care about something that’s meaningless.

2) Since you brought up the OED, here’s how the OED defines atheism:

“Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.”

OED says atheism could be either disbelief or lack of belief. You say lack of belief, I say disbelief. How’s that for compromise? 🙂

If atheism is disbelief in the existence of God or gods, then that is a claim. A claim needs to be argued for or against.

3) The use of “language” to argue for or against a claim goes both ways. It’s not just me, it’s also you. I could just as easily say to you, too, that you have “abused” the English language “to serve your partisan desires.” It’s clear you’re a strong atheist from past interactions with you. Don’t pretend you aren’t promoting atheism everywhere you go. That much is evident.

You haven’t been treating my “ideas and opinions” with any “respect” since we first started debating. In fact, you’ve already been “disdaining” whatever I say. Just look at the other thread. Again, stop pretending it’s been anything else.

The fact is that you’re a fundamentalist atheist.

Right. Atheism means no belief in gods or a god. That’s the whole thing right there.
So why all the mistrust and vilification aimed at those who freely admit they do not believe in gods of a god? Well, primarily because those who wish to promote tribal faith-based beliefs as if a virtue import all kinds of stuff to the term and then claim the stuff that they say comes attached to the term are associated with vice. That’s what you’ve done. That’s an error. That’s why I have corrected you, because you have doubled down on maintaining this fiction that atheism has some other content. Well, it doesn’t. Cope. It’s not meaningless because it has no belief content; it is meaningful in that it describes the person’s lack of belief in gods or a god.

I have no mistrust or vilification toward atheists in general. Just you, based on how you’ve behaved toward me and treated me. Here you attempt to adopt a more professional tone, in turn in an attempt to smooth over your image, but in our past interactions you were far worse in how you treated me. It doesn’t bother me on a personal level, because I don’t normally care about people I don’t know, but I point it out so that any people who come across you in the future can be aware of the kind of person you are. You’re a fundamentalist atheist, zealous and verbally abusive, though now you’ve adopted a more sober tone of voice. I do sincerely hope that lasts!

The problem is you keep equivocating between atheism as disbelief (“those who freely admit they do not believe in gods of a god”) and atheism as nonbelief (“the person’s lack of belief in gods or a god”). You seem to want to have it both ways. If you want to argue it’s nonbelief, then you’re right, it’s contentless (and, as I pointed out earlier, it’s meaningless, too, since what meaning would a “nonbelief” without content carry?). But if you want to agree with me that atheism is disbelief, then atheism does have content since atheism is the claim that there is no god or gods. That would entail that theism is false, which is a “content”-ful claim.

Fundamentalist Atheist: Tildeb


Why, yes there is a difference! How perceptive! But it doesn’t matter to the apologist because both are a strike against anyone daring to criticize religion: offering an explanatory argument is cause to wave it away as TL;DR. Not offering an explanatory argument is cause to wave it away as empty assertion. Sound familiar, Nils?

What comes through quite clearly (past the rantings and ravings) is you’re still upset about my TL;DR to you. I never expected what I said would have gotten under your skin so much. I’d like to apologize in the hopes it makes you feel better! 🙂

Ya gotta love the heads-I-win, tails-you-lose style of the religious apologist who doesn’t care about what is true or respect it or has any desire to alter either of these conditions but who then claims it’s not okay to ridicule the person playing this intellectual two-faced game. Ad hominem! Ad hominem! cries the apologist. The apologist has ethical standards of fair play and acceptable style, doncha know, and is always willing to apply it… but only to those who call the apologist out on it.

It’s fun to watch you in conniptions about things I haven’t ever claimed or implied. You’re like an angry bull that charges at a matador’s red cape. Still, one feels bad for the bull after the matador has dealt it a killing blow.

I’ve criticized religion, I’ve also defended religion, but that’s not good enough for you. Your position is people must absolutely hate religion, anything less is contemptible! You’re a fundamentalist atheist similar to fundamentalist Christians or other religions. You’re not just vocal or outspoken, which would be fine, but you use words to assault. You go on a heated tirades against some mysterious phantom religious apologist. You should read this,

Is it just me or are the militant atheists become MORE annoying than the your-gonna-burn-christians?

Does Ridicule Work? Reanimated Corpses!

Gary believes ridicule works.

I strongly believe that we must stop treating religion’s sacred cows with respect. The more we laugh at them the fewer people will buy into this nonsense.

Ridicule works.

There is a difference between providing an argument against a claim WHILE ridiculing the claim VS. ONLY ridiculing a claim. It sounds like you are talking about ONLY ridiculing a claim.

If that is what you are talking about, that kind of ridicule works . . . sometimes. For example, there are a lot of people who love it when Trump makes fun of things and “ridicules” things. Trump’s “ridicule” works on them and they love it. But I don’t think these people are very thoughtful kinds of people so I wouldn’t put too much stock into these people who are convinced by ridicule.

But I do not believe that kind of ridicule will usually work with “thinking” people. That is because if you ONLY ridicule but you do not ALSO show people (people in the middle like me) HOW the Christian belief is a superstition, but you just ridicule Christian beliefs without providing an argument against Christian beliefs, then that will have little affect. It just sounds like you are attacking a strawman, but not actual Christian beliefs, so it is easy to brush off.

For Christians, maybe they will even take your ridicule like you are “martyring” them and wear it as a badge of honor or pride. Granted, I don’t know the technical specific details of what Christians believe, but I am confident Christians do not believe a “corpse” is “reanimated” because that sounds like a zombie. I don’t think Christians sincerely believe Jesus was a zombie! Sure it might be fun to joke about how Jesus is a zombie, but that’s not really what Christians believe, right? Christians believe that Jesus received or became an actual normal and healthy human body and not a “corpse.” And “resurrection” is different from “reanimation” in at least one way because a resurrection is literally raising a dead person to life and would be a miracle, but reanimation could (theoretically) be scientifically and technologically possible like with Frankenstein. I’m very skeptical, but there is some research into reanimating cells. Maybe in the future reanimation will be possible. Regardless, all I am saying is resurrection is not identical to renanimation if we are talking about very strict and rigorous definitions, which I assume is what you would have to do with Christians. It sounds like semantics, but semantics matter when you are trying to get to the heart of a debate (it happens a lot in philosophy).

I frequently refer to Christianity’s “resurrected Savior” concept as a reanimated/transformed, three-day-brain-dead, broiled-fish-eating, space-levitating, corpse. After all, this is exactly what traditional Christianity teaches.

In the case of ridiculing Christian beliefs about miracles like resurrection, the problem here is that this is “the point of dispute” as lawyers say. It is not agreed upon by both parties that what they believe is a “superstition.” Note I am NOT saying it is not a superstition, objectively speaking. I am only saying that Christians do not believe that it is a superstition. They believe it is true. Hence your ridicule assumes what you need to prove TO THE CHRISTIAN, namely, that it is a superstition.