Bruno Marchal writes:

Le 08-janv.-06, à 12:22, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

We can argue about the precise definition of words, but I think a fundamental point is missed if religion and atheism are put on a par. It is like the Christian fundamentalists' demand that "creation science" be taught in schools alongside evolutionary biology, because nobody can reasonably claim that evolutionary biology is *certainly* true and "creation science" *certainly* false.

There is a clear difference between, on the one hand, believing x despite the lack of any supporting evidence and, on the other hand, not believing x because of the lack of any supporting evidence - especially if x is something inherently bizarre or incredible.

Here you make a point. But this is because "creation science" is just not a science. Those who pretend it is a science are just doing rhetorical tricks.

Perhaps one day "creation science" will appear. This would be the case if "creation science" (the doctrine that the best explanation for the existence of the universe is that God has made it recently in less than 7 days) is made enough precise to not only be tested but to provide a best overview of reality, etc. But of course today this is not the case, and "creation science", *as* a science is much more a like a fuzzy speculation predicting and actually explaining nothing. Their proponents just are no playing the game.

Yes, but this is the problem with belief in a personal God versus non-belief. Theism would be an empirical, or equivalently scientific, belief if its proponents were consistent: if God intervenes in the world, then by definition he must leave some evidence of this intervention. (The alternative believers' position is deism, the idea that God made the world but then refrained from any further interventions in its affairs. Deism has never really inspired religious devotion like theism has.) The reality is, however, that there is less evidence for religious beliefs than there is for most bizarre secular beliefs, such as the belief that Elvis is alive, or that aliens regularly abduct humans to experiment on them.

It is worth stressing that what normally counts for religious belief (in the Western tradition) is *not* a vague deism, but very specific beliefs about a Personal God: for example, that he caused one third of himself to be born of a virgin so that he could live as a human and, though immortal and destined to rise again, die a horrible death in order to save humans from being punished for Adam and Eve's original transgression against God in the Garden of Eden at the instigation of a snake which told Eve she and Adam would lose their ignorance if they ate the fruit of a certain forbidden (by God) tree; and that anyone who believes this and admits he is a miserable sinner will go to Heaven, while non-believers will suffer eternal torment in Hell. I mean, give me Elvis and aliens with anal probes any time...

Now, most people who says "I don't believe in God", in general believe in a "physical or material" universe; and that is still a sort of religious belief. Atheist are not just believer because they believe in 0 God, as George put it, but also because they replace God by something else, without really explaining what it is and how it helps us to figure what exist, etc.

In my state of ignorance I would even say that for me GOD and UNIVERSE are both enough fuzzy that distinguishing them at the start could be a 1004 fallacy. But, perhaps unlike some of you, I did not get any religious education, and all what I know in "theology" comes from study and experience, and all what I do appreciate in the Monism of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian theologies (but present also in some Chinese and Indian philosophical systems) seems to be the parts they have kept from the pre-Christian and pre-Muslim neo-Platonician theology. Today's catholic theologians who insist too much on the quality in rigour of that type of theology get trouble with the Roman Authority.

If GOD and UNIVERSE are fuzzy and difficult to distinguish, you're very far from talking about the God of people who are religious.

Stathis Papaioannou

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