Atheism versus theism

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

Moderators: Minimalist, MichelleH

Atheism versus theism

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:14 am

I'm not so foolish as to expect us to be able to prove anything with this thread – it’s more that I thought it would be fun to play around with some ideas about atheism and theism, and see where it takes us. I guess some of you are atheists and may want to prove that that is the way to go - and others will be theists wanting to also prove that case. But for myself, I have no idea whether there is a God and, I believe that in the final analysis, it can only ever be an opinion, either way, with neither opinion having any more value than the other.

Anyway, first of all, let's define our terms. My Concise Oxford Dictionary gives the following definition for atheism: “Disbelief in the existence of God or gods; godlessness.”

And the same dictionary for theism: “Belief in existence of God or gods, esp. a God supernaturally revealed to man and sustaining a personal revelation to his creatures.”

I suggest when we use the word God, it is merely shorthand for any kind of divine intelligence, and is not limited to the Judaeo-Christian brand. So that’s our starting point. Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man. Atheism is disbelief in God.

And so I would like to get the discussion going with this thought, which came to me this morning as I was surveying an ants’ nest that has somehow appeared in my garden overnight. It occurred to me an ant in my garden can have no conception of the size and nature of the garden he is in, let alone the village that my garden sits within and even further than that, the country and the world, the universe and beyond. But does that mean that that garden, that country, that world, that universe cannot exist? It must exist, because the ant is dependent upon it for his life.

This shows that the universe's existence is not dependent upon the ant’s awareness or knowledge of it – thus, maybe it’s the same for us and God ...except there’s that second bit of the definition: “...a God supernaturally revealed to man and sustaining a personal revelation to his creatures.”

Well, I could step on the ant, and my existence would certainly be revealed to him just before his own ended somewhat abruptly – so that wouldn’t really work. The problem is, neither the ant or I are set up in a cognitive sense to be able to communicate. So how could I reveal myself to him? I think we would both have to undergo some sort of transformation for us to have any hope of any kind of interface.

For either me or the ant to have faith that could happen is not going to help us. We could go to church every Sunday and pray and sing about it, and it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference. We could dance around a fire and bang drums, and still it wouldn’t happen. He could give up chewing dirt for Lent, but still we would be no closer. In any case, the ant doesn’t seem particularly interested in anything other than building his nest.

So for this ‘revelation’ to occur, it will be up to me, as a shaman, to institute some of supernatural occurrence, to provide some sort of interface in another dimension where the rules of this one do not apply. We would both have to take a quantum leap. So could this be the supernatural (or other than natural) revelation referred to in the definition? And could it also possibly be the same as the one referred to as 'wordless wisdom initiations' in the mythologies and sacred texts of old, like the blinding light of Saul of Tarsus's road to Damascus revelation, that led to him not just changing his name but also his religious belief system?

Who knows? But it’s just to give us a starting off point.



.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Postby seeker » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:36 am

That's actually a nice analogy. If you could communicate with that ant, you would find it worth your while to do so on an ongoing basis? That is one of the big problems IMO with theism. It isn't the possibility that God exists but the probability that such an existence would find anything remotely compelling about creatures as far beneath its existence as an ant is to ours.

So let's suppose that we were the ant in that analogy. Would it be wise for the ant to spend all of its time trying to get humans to supply food for the colony and build its nest for it? Would it gain anything by building tiny little ant alters to us and sacrificing virgin ant queens to us? The ant's existence depends solely on the ant and while its remotely possible for an ant to gain by having a personal relationship with a human the likelihood of that relationship ever developing is so remote that it would never be worth it.

But the ant does have some clues. Occasionally ants get squashed by very large things that seem to do so capriciously so it knows something is out there, of course it could not know if the squasher is a man, bear, cat or whatever. It at least has some evidence of the Great Squasher. What then is our evidence? So far we have found that every time we closely investigate a problem the answers appear to be natural ones. it seems we humans don't have evidence of a Great Squasher.
seeker
 
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:37 am

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:19 am

Yes ... unless the squasher and the ant find, once they've made their quantum leap, that they are not separate to one another and are one! :lol:

I'm fascinated lately by the discoveries of quantum physics, because I think some of them are coming up with a whole new idea about God. I can’t claim to fully understand it, but it’s definitely a move away from the old hierarchical model of a Great God who was separate, remote and superior to his creation. It’s actually about God being part of the creation and as we are part of that same creation, it is about us being God and God being us – on one level. I know it all sounds much too Zen and Be Here Now to be scientific, but I promise you, this is what some of those quantum guys are thinking.

Quantum physicists say that the universe is made up of sub-atomic particles organised into a beautifully designed, mathematically perfect matrix that, at a quantum level, we have created and that we can influence and that, when we’ve had enough of it, we will destroy. That makes us God – Generator, Operator and Destroyer. But it's all on a quantum level, which is another layer of reality.

But, in fact, it's not such a new idea. From what I can glean about the Gnostics and the Mysteries, I believe that this is what these initiates taught too - and I've put it in my signature: that man is God and not that he has to obey one.

Shamans also find that, when they get into the other dimensions, that the creation is matrix-like, like a crystal in structure, and some of them refer to it as the Web. Shamans also always say that "thoughts are things", in that thoughts are sub-atomic particles that influence reality in the same way, which is why they work with the power of intention.

That's why I said that my ant and I should have to take a quantum leap - because once we reached the quantum dimension, we would realise that we are both one and the same, and that there is no separation between us, and that we are both God.
Last edited by Ishtar on Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Postby Minimalist » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:29 am

Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man.



Theism does not require that god "reveal" himself. The god of the deists set the world up and then went to take a nap or something. Such a god expects no worship, doesn't hear prayers and doesn't expect anyone to "sacrifice" anything to him/her/it.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
Minimalist
 
Posts: 15420
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:09 pm
Location: Arizona

Postby seeker » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:38 am

Minimalist wrote:
Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man.



Theism does not require that god "reveal" himself. The god of the deists set the world up and then went to take a nap or something. Such a god expects no worship, doesn't hear prayers and doesn't expect anyone to "sacrifice" anything to him/her/it.


I like to think of deism as a bad spelling of atheism. :lol:
seeker
 
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:37 am

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:40 am

Minimalist wrote:
Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man.



Theism does not require that god "reveal" himself. The god of the deists set the world up and then went to take a nap or something. Such a god expects no worship, doesn't hear prayers and doesn't expect anyone to "sacrifice" anything to him/her/it.


Min, that sounds like someone who resents an uncaring God rather than someone doesn't believe he exists.

I think most adherents to religions expect their God to have some knowing of them, otherwise why bother praying?

Anyway, I'm just giving the Concise Oxford definition for both theists and atheists, so that we could start from an authoriative standpoint.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:42 am

seeker wrote:
Minimalist wrote:
Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man.



Theism does not require that god "reveal" himself. The god of the deists set the world up and then went to take a nap or something. Such a god expects no worship, doesn't hear prayers and doesn't expect anyone to "sacrifice" anything to him/her/it.


I like to think of deism as a bad spelling of atheism. :lol:


In Sanskrit, which is part of the language system our's mainly comes from, the 'a' denotes a negative. So the positive comes first, and then the 'a' is tacked on the beginning as a prefix for the negative. It's why you also get agnostic.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Postby seeker » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:45 am

Ishtar wrote:Yes ... unless the squasher and the ant find, once they've made their quantum leap, that they are not separate to one another and are one! :lol:

I'm fascinated lately by the discoveries of quantum physics, because I think some of them are coming up with a whole new idea about God. I can’t claim to fully understand it, but it’s definitely a move away from the old hierarchical model of a Great God who was separate, remote and superior to his creation. It’s actually about God being part of the creation and as we are part of that same creation, it is about us being God and God being us – on one level. I know it all sounds much too Zen and Be Here Now to be scientific, but I promise you, this is what some of those quantum guys are thinking.

Quantum physicists say that the universe is made up of sub-atomic particles organised into a beautifully designed, mathematically perfect matrix that, at a quantum level, we have created and that we can influence and that, when we’ve had enough of it, we will destroy. That makes us God – Generator, Operator and Destroyer. But it's all on a quantum level, which is another layer of reality.

But, in fact, it's not such a new idea. From what I can glean about the Gnostics and the Mysteries, I believe that this is what these initiates taught too - and I've put it in my signature: that man is God and not that he has to obey one.

Shamans also find that, when they get into the other dimensions, that the creation is matrix-like, like a crystal in structure, and some of them refer to it as the Web. Shamans also always say that "thoughts are things", in that thoughts are sub-atomic particles that influence reality in the same way, which is why they work with the power of intention.

That's why I said that my ant and I should have to take a quantum leap - because once we reached the quantum dimension, we would realise that we are both one and the same, and that there is no separation between us, and that we are both God.


That's just it though, ants aren't human and are unlikely to become human. I do agree that the Gnostic notion of people becoming gods is much more compelling but it is compelling to me because it is self actualizing. If there is merit in Gnosticism it is in the notion of maximizing ones own potential.

I think that Quantum Physics is too dimly understood to base a philosophy on. If there were a God why would he always need to hide in the dark corners at the edges of our perception?
seeker
 
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:37 am

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:56 am

seeker wrote:That's just it though, ants aren't human and are unlikely to become human.


Yes, true, at this level of perception. But at another level, I am not human and the ant is not an ant. We are both God.

seeker wrote: I do agree that the Gnostic notion of people becoming gods is much more compelling but it is compelling to me because it is self actualizing. If there is merit in Gnosticism it is in the notion of maximizing ones own potential.


I think that the Gnostics taught this and I also believe it was what was taught at the Mysteries. I can't prove it ... just little breadcrumb clues. The Indian and Egyptian Serpent cult is also about a mystical experience which is based around the pineal gland within the hypothalmus, which is where the crossing of dimensions takes place for the shaman.

seeker wrote:I think that Quantum Physics is too dimly understood to base a philosophy on.


I agree, it's very fuzzy ... and a very controversial theory, and I wouldn't stake my inheritance on it. I think I'm only picking up on it and resonating with it because it ties in with the Gnostics, the Mysteries and so on.

seeker wrote:If there were a God why would he always need to hide in the dark corners at the edges of our perception?


See, there's that phrase that we are so brainwashed with ...if there were A God. But in this new model, it's a different scenario. Look at it from the point of view that we are God. But circumstances have cluttered our minds up with a load of Literalist nonsense so that we no longer know who we are anymore. Meditation is quite a good way to unclutter the mind, and then all we need is someone who can show us how to use the pineal gland for what it was meant for, and possibly what our ancestors used it for... crossing into the quantum, or the causal dimension.


.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Postby Minimalist » Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:01 am

seeker wrote:
Minimalist wrote:
Theism is belief in a God that reveals himself to man.



Theism does not require that god "reveal" himself. The god of the deists set the world up and then went to take a nap or something. Such a god expects no worship, doesn't hear prayers and doesn't expect anyone to "sacrifice" anything to him/her/it.


I like to think of deism as a bad spelling of atheism. :lol:



I've chided Noble Savage over at JNE by saying that "a deist is simply an atheist who refuses to let go with the other hand."

He's quite a character though.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin
Minimalist
 
Posts: 15420
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 1:09 pm
Location: Arizona

Postby War Arrow » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:03 am

God(s) is(are) entirely in the eye of the beholder, but then so is everything else if you think about it.
Image
User avatar
War Arrow
 
Posts: 783
Joined: Sat Oct 14, 2006 7:05 am
Location: Texas

Postby seeker » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:09 am

I think war arrow may have a really good point here. When we start talking about God its easy to forget that this is really an undefined concept. If we are gods then what is God?
seeker
 
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:37 am

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:40 am

seeker wrote:I think war arrow may have a really good point here. When we start talking about God its easy to forget that this is really an undefined concept. If we are gods then what is God?


Well, I don't know if you're referring to my theory ... but in mine, we are not gods, we are God.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Postby seeker » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:08 am

Ishtar wrote:
seeker wrote:I think war arrow may have a really good point here. When we start talking about God its easy to forget that this is really an undefined concept. If we are gods then what is God?


Well, I don't know if you're referring to my theory ... but in mine, we are not gods, we are God.
Do you mean that in the pantheistic sense?
seeker
 
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:37 am

Postby Ishtar » Wed Sep 10, 2008 11:42 am

seeker wrote:
Ishtar wrote:
seeker wrote:I think war arrow may have a really good point here. When we start talking about God its easy to forget that this is really an undefined concept. If we are gods then what is God?


Well, I don't know if you're referring to my theory ... but in mine, we are not gods, we are God.
Do you mean that in the pantheistic sense?


No :D ! That would make us gods.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK

Next

Return to Mythology, Ritualisms, Traditions and Folklore

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest