Here’s an interesting clip from Alister McGrath. McGrath is a former atheist, molecular biologist at Oxford, who left the atheist indoctrination of his youth to eventually become a Christian and theologian. (I included a video of his journey to faith in “The resurrection of Jesus Christ – Part Five.”)
In this clip, McGrath talks about the legitimacy and importance of spiritual experiences, which he believes is another type of “knowing” and an important part of making sense of the world.
All Atheists convert to Theists less than a second after death.
Can you prove this?
I don’t need to 😁 Can you prove the earth won’t stop spinning tomorrow? I’m just as sure about what will happen as I am it will keep whirling away.
After death I would expect you cannot do anything. You write with an authority, like you know it is true, just like all theists “know” their god exists. As usual without any facts, not on a single shred of evidence can you base this assumption. This is a very insecure non- analytical way to think.
Do remember when people thought things were solid? When in all actuality we now know that is false, that everything is made up of energy not matter…so nothing is even solid. If I were to have told someone 200 years ago this information they would have said exactly as you have…there is no proof….they would have said there is not a single shred of evidence on which to base your assumption 😁
And they would have been wrong. Their limited understanding is not a “fact” – it is an error – you will see the second your “physical” body dies that I sir make no assumption but speak to you of things you only lack proper knowledge of .
At atomic level we understand the unique energy of physical atoms. However, in the common language we understand you cannot stick your finger through what are solid metal plates.
This is science and 200 years ago they were not wrong, they just did not have the scientific capability to understand as we do today.
How is it you know more about death than I do? Let me guess, you had experiences, had dreams or heard voices. If you decide to want to understand more about what your brain is capable of doing such as how and why it can make things appear realistic like gods and devils try checking out neuroscience and the related sciences on this issue. They have advanced a long way over 200 years and I think it is you who lacks the proper knowledge.
Let’s talk about the fact that an atom is scientifically 99.999999999% nothing, empty space, nada – which means that everything you see is 99.999999999% not even really there…it’s emptiness….
Then let’s talk about quarks…which we just discovered…
And if you really feel froggy let’s talk about Epistemological solipsism…because in all actuality you are surrounded by, made up of, and constantly passing through a universe of things you can’t see and didn’t even know existed even 2 years ago…and you can’t even prove ANY OF IT IS REAL 😂😂😂😂
God made it all. And the Bible says that the wisdom of man is foolishness to God.
You say “Let’s talk about the fact that an atom is scientifically 99.999999999% nothing, empty space, nada – which means that everything you see is 99.999999999% not even really there…it’s emptiness….”
This is not completely true, everything is solid, gas or liquid, the atoms and molecules are inestimably small and well beyond normal vision and bonded tightly together with electrons but I guess at those levels of observation I would expect to see the empty space.
You declare this like you do not believe it. Like you said before “energy” explains much of what cannot be seen just like gravity we believe exists that is not a form of energy but creates potential energy, whereas electricity is also not seen but nobody doubts its existence. Scientists can deduct something that can’t be seen does exist through experimentations that identify something even if it is unobservable and in an unknown form.
I do not mean to be judgemental 😊but I suppose I am, it appears to me from what you write that you cannot accept anything on the planet at face value, you appear to believe in conspiracies and in the superstitious world. You say regarding the science that “you can’t even prove ANY OF IT IS REAL” and then you go on to say “God made it all.” That is an inconsistency and typically using a god to fill the gaps of ignorance.
“And the Bible says that the wisdom of man is foolishness to God.” I thought he was supposed to have given us free will so what did he expect, did he not understand that free will is used in collecting wisdom? You can’t have it both ways.
Everything I stated was not in disagreement with science, it is in awe of how PERFECT God’s creation is ❤️ in 5 years will we discover that a quark is actually 10 times bigger than something else….or maybe 100 x…man is merely partaker, an observer, he is not in control or creating anything.
You and I are on a great big ball that’s spinning at almost 700 miles per hour while whirling through space orbiting a sun going nearly 70,000 miles per hour. We are able to walk, talk, type and enjoy life despite our situation or perhaps because of our situation 😁 And only because light travels faster than any known “thing” – if light had been just a little slower, what would our world be like? Explain how light knew what and how to become light?
Ok let us go a step further, this spinning and rotating Earth is absolutely nothing and the equivalent to just a grain of sand on a huge beach when it comes to the universe. Current scientific thinking has it about 93 billion light years in diameter and some say it is much larger or a never-ending expanse.
My point being is if any Earth based worshipped gods were actually real they would be engulfed, over-ruled and disparaged by the incredible numbers of gods worshipped by other life forms in the universe if of course they are as primitive and as gullible as we humans are.
The Bible has the universe as “heavens” with God sitting up there, God decides how many stars in the sky and gives them names, (how cute) he arranged them to be signs for seasons, days and years, the heavens and earth are a store of fire for judgement day and to punish the ungodly heathens such as myself. The Earth hangs on nothing, but Earth is evidently set on foundations so it cannot be moved and God will keep it steady when it totters on its pillars. ( good man) In the beginning after tribulation the sun will darken and the stars will fall from heaven, and evidently four angels were standing at the four corners of what is a flat earth, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
This is just some of the romantic writings from some very simple, superstitious and primitive people claiming God had advised them who obviously had no idea what the universe was, what the stars were or even the shape of the Earth. To claim that the Christian God is the only true god who created everything cannot be anything but a ridiculous story passed down through time just as the many other religions who claim basically the same stories for their gods.
There is only one God. Omnipotent, omniscient, and Sovereign- as far as the absolute magnitude of the Universe man is still ignorant to its complexity and rightfully so…as for putting my faith in man made science 😂😂😂😂😂😂 that’s funny.
You do believe in conspiracies then? Science has nothing to do with faith as the religious term. Confidence in science such as the space exploration, landing on the moon, biological evolution, the Earth is a sphere, the age of the Earth, global temperature changes, surgical techniques, computer innovations, electric cars etc. I also understand weapons of mass destruction are down to science as well, however you have no idea how much your life depends on scientific discovery.
“Only one God,” prove it or don’t make me laugh.
Science if fallible- God is not. 😁👍
You have faith that your creator God is manifested within an immaterial world. In reality this is due to your mind having been manipulated with religious ideology and doctrine that programme your mind and distort your understanding and rationality.
I believe you will find it is impossible to find a rational argument to support your position and I understand when the facts start to undermine faith it is much simpler to use a few words that will mention Gods name and make you feel good.
Science is the only way to the truth of the cosmos and the ultimate future for mankind, gods are for frightening people who are superstitious, naive and emotionally motivated. Best wishes to you😊
Science fails ALOT as stated before. You have no clue who you are talking to 😁 My God – is soooo big and sooooo amazing ❤️ you have no clue and I feel sorry for you. I pray The Holy Spirit move on your heart and open your mind up to understanding. My God is the realist thing in this reality – you just don’t have what you need at this point to comprehend his presence. One day you will realize that this is NOTHING like you think it is 😉 God bless your eyes so they can see. I know he exists because he blessed my eyes so I could see and he will do it for you too. 👍🙏🏻✝️
Science fails a lot? In what capacity? Science finds the truth in the end, it always has and always will. I detect you are apprehensive about science and for good reason. Here are just a few reasons for theists to be concerned.
I believe the God you speak of is literally inside your brain and is a feel good emotional state of mind and is an interesting issue for scientists.
“Believing in God generates soothing “juices” in the brain that make us feel good, says Rutgers University evolutionary biologist Lionel Tiger. Scientists have identified the neurotransmitter serotonin, a network of neurons in the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes, and the gene VMAT2 as chemical, structural and genetic origin points that may be responsible for religiosity.”
I would send you the links to these sites if I thought you would show any interest, but I think you are “to far gone” to even be interested in truth and reality, and I feel it is an absolute shame.
😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 ohhhh you poor poor child. Who made the neural transmitters in your brain? Who developed Serotonin….yeah bacteria in originally a pond…then scientists said no…couldn’t be a pond…had to be an ocean…yyyeeeaahhhh it’s an ocean. No fossil evidence exists to Your in between species in evolution. Bacteria doesn’t even evolve into other types of bacteria. ALL HUMANOID types of skeletal remains that were supposed to be this or that turned out to be hoaxes. Your ideas of evolution can’t be proved – BECAUSE NONE OF IT HAS BEEN OBSERVED. ITS FLAWED. Who put the stars in the sky, or put the information in your DNA? UUGH y’all think your so smart yet…..evidence says otherwise. My faith is that of Mount Everest . I know my Bible back and forth…I’ve seen all that God has done for me, healing of my children in miraculous ways…and not just one child…3 in different ICUS in different children’s hospitals. My Gods been so good to me. ❤️ have a great life – it was given to you by God…and when you die and your spirit man sits up out of this shell – remember me – I really hope you get right with the Lord before then…because then it’s too late. See I do t even fear death – I know we live through it ❤️ your arguments bore me though…men are too fallible to hang my eternity on their thoughts…even Darwin thought it was insanity to trust anything conceived in a monkeys brain…yet he wrote a book…and wanted you to read his monkey brain thoughts….man is blind! But not for long!
Please do not feel anything for me. The comments you have made put you in a special category. You have absolutely no education or any idea of what you write about and these irrational ideas that colour your fantasy world will be detrimental to your own wellbeing and those of your children, who I hope will not need to suffer any disadvantages due to your ignorance and obsessive fringe ideologies.
I feel you are too far out of the world of reality for my comments to come close to registering with you, therefore I will make this my last comment to you, with one last request and plea to allow your children their rights of freedom to make up their own minds.
You have no idea how it works do you? If my children accepted Jesus to please me, then their salvation isn’t real. No one can force you to come to the Lord, and by your comments, I can tell you have no clue about Christianity.
Anyone who comes to the Lord MUST do so on their own free will. Otherwise it’s just vanity. Most churches are filled with very loving people who enjoy helping out their communities and the world. That is terrible to be apart of right? Right now we are making our Christmas shoeboxes that go to third world countries at Christmas inside are things that impoverished children really need. Oh I’m a terrible mother for giving each one of my kids a shoebox and asking them to help me fill them…I’m just an aweful aweful mommy aren’t I ?
Our church also helps addicts and the homeless in our community, providing them with food, shelter and clothing…I’m a terrible mommy for teaching my children to “love thy neighbor as yourself”
Your ignorance is showing, tuck it in. 😉
OK, I had to answer this rant. Indoctrination of child’s minds is a reality and I doubt you would understand how it works but many traditional, fanatical and even moderate religious parents also do not understand what they and the church is doing that may become detrimental to their lives. Giving your kids shoeboxes and teaching them to give to the poor with love and respect has nothing to do with repetitious ideologic indoctrination, however it is extremely difficult for a child to make up their own minds if they are dragged into churches and forced to worship a god at a young age.
You come across with your views as one of these fanatical parents who could not wait to have them proselytised into your faith and ideology, especially since you believe everything is Gods doing and he had even picked out your three wealthy well fed and loved children to apply medical miracles rather than save 20,000 kids dying from starvation and preventable sickness every day in Africa.
You only regurgitate what you have been told. You know nothing about the way the church works, what salvation is, or the healing powers of God….
Yet here you are….
Yawn. It’s after 11 Goodnight 😁
Your comment “You only regurgitate what you have been told.” And I suppose you don’t, and who doesn’t? Some of us are just that much better at confirming the information is factual. You have been well fed with an ideology that will discourage you from wanting to understand or believe anything outside of your doctrine and I have learnt enough about religious beliefs to recognise the truth and lies, the fact and fiction and the good and bad that they are responsible for.
Have you ever been to Church? Have you ever left your bubble? I have a formal education that I have actually explored the sciences. My world view is not based on what others have told me to do, I did not grow up in church. I have however found it to be a beautiful place of community nothing like what your projecting here. Before you bash it, go experience it.
What branch of science are you educated in? And Yes, I have been to church, I have been to Sunday school and I have actually been baptised. However, I was not indoctrinated and the church tried very hard to do so. They simply could not convince this boy that the ancient Biblical stories were true. I remember thinking, how could adult men and women believe this s….t. Of course I have been in many churches since then for certain events, weddings and many funerals particularly these days. It is all just ritualistic rhetoric and it appears people I talk with are beginning to recognise this.
I agree that churches are community based and that is a good thing. I do not dislike religious people, I dispute their faith based on superstitious beliefs and do not recognise that any gods exist.
Do you believe you evolved from another animal?
I do not just believe in evolution, it is factual because it is among the most authenticated concepts in science and is the unifying theory of biological science. However, we did not evolve from other animals. We do share a common ancestor with some primates such as African apes, gorillas and chimps but we are all modern species that has followed different evolutionary paths.
So, are you going to tell me where thousands of scientists throughout the world for over 150 years have gone wrong?
There is absolutely no observable evidence that evolution occurred- EVER. NOT ONE FOSSIL of an inbetween species, scientists have tried to get bacteria to evolve…can’t do it. And Darwin believe the smaller things became the simpler they got.
DNA? QUARKS? Ummmmm he was really wrong.
But it’s not a fact, there is no physical evidence to support it.
But it’s not a fact, there is no physical evidence to support it.
And you have physical evidence to support your beliefs?
I didn’t say I did, but the scientific community lies when it says that evolution has been proven, when it is printed in textbooks etc that is a fact…wrong. Not one stitch of evidence. It’s an uneducated guess at best, because many of Darwins foundational ideas now under advanced technology are being proven erred.
We are not matter, we are energy. Teeny tiny particles of energy made up primarily of empty space. That’s a lot more complex than being a small blob of matter that somehow found a will to live.
Where did you get this stuff? What website are you emulating? I am not going to get into an argument about what the scientific community has known and proven to be as solid as the of the Earth’s orbit because you do not absorb anything. “Observable evidence” is an ironic ask from a creationist but If you want truth and have the ability open your mind check out these web sites.
This site is very informative
and this site will offer some of the education you lack in the fossil argument.
And as far as “the scientific community lies” statement you used to Nan and the impertinence you display proves your conspiracy bias, something I knew you were all along. If you cannot take a rational and logical issue that over 90% of scientists agree with including a major religion that has been subject to testing and re-evaluating for over 150 years I cannot accept your indoctrinated ideological views taken from conspiracist web sites, and therefore you have nothing more to offer that meets any level of intelligent discussion.
You adhere to the I read it on the internet it’s real school 😂😂😂😂😂 I saw it on a website, that’s so funny. Again. There is absolutely NO OBSERVABLE EVIDENCE EVOLUTION IS REAL. NONE. ZIP. NADA. This is a FACT. SCIENCE IS BASED ON WHAT? Observation. Of which there is absolutely no observable evidence left behind in the last however billions of years you state the earth is old. Not one fossil, skeleton, even PARTIAL evidence…nothinggggg.
And your opinions are based on … ??
The beautiful inerrant Word of God 😁
Nan, I don’t know about you but I am at a complete loss as to how someone like this lady can be so totally misinformed and deluded. She was never educated in a normal school, that’s for sure, and I have noticed there are not many Christians who are wanting to back her arguments due to her limited understanding of science and conspiracy ideals. I bet she thinks the moon is made of cheese.
I like that she never has any counter arguments as to why she believes this stuff and of course you never will.
Agree. Time to move on and leave her to her fantasies.
1 second too late.
Mel … McGrath is doing nothing more than repeating what you continue to express on your blog, i.e., belief in god is the result of experience. It isn’t science. It isn’t fact. It isn’t proven theory. It’s experience. And experience is directly related to emotion, which is a guiding factor to one’s personal outlook on life.
Experiences influence one’s perception of reality whereas facts validate it.
In your own words…it’s only experience. By your own measuring stick…neither does love, fear, depression…nor joy, sorrow, or fear….what about perseverance or morality….stretch it out neither does yesterday or tomorrow….
Taking experience of the table you wipe out about 3/4 of the human experience…nullifying everything outside of eat, drinking and procreating like an animal….
TWO, you missed my point. Please re-read what I wrote: And experience is directly related to emotion, which is a guiding factor to one’s personal outlook on life. All that you mentioned are emotions: love, fear, depression, sorrow, etc. and they DO play a part in one’s life. But Mel has repeatedly said he believes in “God” because he has experienced “him” — the same reason McGrath gave in the video.
My point is that experiences are not fact. They are not the be-all, end-all validation for the existence of a god (any god). They may convince you, Mel, and thousands of other believers that the Christian god exists, but experiences are not proof, evidence, or fact … except to those who put their trust in them.
You believe in science. If we were to take a trip back through the history of science could we perhaps come to an educated guess that science is often wrong and therefore trusting in it takes a lot of faith…remember once the sun orbited us, the world was flat, flies came from horsehair left in water, in order to heal people we needed to drain their blood or shock their brains…and oh yeah my favorite…Darwins idea that the smaller things got the simpler they become…
Looks like even facts aren’t to be trusted…nor science given it’s current tract record…
So anyways, factually explain to me why I should not kill other people.
You are making an unmerited assumption. I have never said I “believe in science.”
That someone has died is fact and in our society, death by killing is “wrong” by law. Trying to equate murder with what I have written about experience and emotion is a straw man’s argument. But beyond that, it has nothing to do with Mel’s post and the video.
He as EVERYTHING to do with it. In your world view, our experience with God is invalid as to proof of his existence. I cannot bottle, measure or even observe love. Therefore it does not exist, according to YOUR standard. It’s existence is not a fact, but based completely on experiential evidence…
And as far as murder. You are making an argument based on feelings. Facts. Give me three facts as to why it’s wrong. Lions eat gazelles everyday. Male lions also ransack prides and eat the offspring that don’t belong to them. It’s right for nature and perpetuance of species. Why is it wrong for man?
No, you’re misinterpreting my original premise and trying to expand the discussion into other areas. I’m going to say it one more time — please read it carefully — and then I’m done with this particular post.
“God” cannot be proved through personal experience.
Neither can love. Coincidentally in the Bible it says God IS Love ❤️
Factually explain why murder is wrong.
That is not what McGrath is saying here. He’s not saying that belief in God is the result of experience, but it makes sense of our experiences. Science can only take us so far. It cannot address the existential questions. Christianity makes sense of big things in our life, like science, culture, history, AND experiences. Here’s what he said:
To say that science is the only real knowledge there is, is scientism. Ironically, it cannot even be proven by science. And to just call experiences that millions of people have had for thousands of years just emotions is reductionism. It doesn’t address what we intuitively know is beyond our experience. This is why this will never go away.
Allow me to repeat what I wrote in another comment: I have never said I “believe in science.” Further, nowhere have I indicated that “science is the only real knowledge there is.”
I feel science is a good indicator of how things are and how they work. But I agree … it doesn’t answer everything. But then, IMO, belief in a god doesn’t either. And that’s why we have these discussions. 🙂
I agree with what you’re saying. My point is that we cannot just blow off experiences as emotions either. No one is saying here that they prove God. They just make sense IF you believe in God.
Of course, this is arguable. I realize that. But it’s not a question of science vs. experience here. It’s science AND experience, together, helping us make sense of the world around us. My view (and McGrath’s) is that Christianity makes the most sense of all these things.
And I’m glad I can have this kind of discussion with you, too. 🙂
Got to go…
No one is saying here that they [experiences] prove God. Perhaps not, but this is the impression I’ve gotten from several of your comments and posts.
Further, in essence, can you not agree that personal experiences are really all a believer has since there is no tangible way to prove a god exists?
We just found quarks…and atoms are 99.999999% nothing…and nothing is actually made of mass…it’s ALL energy.
Scientists are flawed and handicapped in more ways than can be written….
Let’s talk about Epistemological solipsism and the fact that nothing is absolutely provable 😉
Posted in the wrong place in the thread…oh well…sorry mel
Thewayonline. Your comment “remember once the sun orbited us, the world was flat, flies came from horsehair left in water,”
That is the exact era in which you keep your mindset. Science has advanced even since Darwin who you obviously despise due to your theism and who practiced over 150 years ago.
Please explain the major scientific claims of today that cannot be trusted, not counting the untrustworthy drug and commercially motivated companies who employ scientists?
Real scientific evidence must be tested many times and peer reviewed before acceptance into scientific publications and has never claimed to always be correct by embracing changes if required, unlike theists who claim to know how everything happened by a magical god because it has been verified inside their own heads.
I commented but it posted in the wrong thread. Look up if you care to see it…if not…have a great evening 😁
As a former atheist too, I’ve come to similar conclusions about the value of spiritual experience. I’m hoping through my blog, I can show others that believing in something more than the sentences isn’t crazy, idiotic etc.
That’s awesome, David. I would love to hear your story sometime.
Thanks. I’ll probably doing a blog post on it in the near future about what guided me towards embracing a spiritual life (it’d much appreciated if you checked out my blog!). But long story short, I was raised in a very atheistic society and my understanding of religion was basically a caricature of what it actually is (the usual religion bashing stuff). When I went to Europe the first time, my eyes were opened a bit. Going to all the enormous cathedrals, there must be more to this whole religion thing. Returning home, I just reading Christian apologists like C.S. Lewis, and authors on religion like Karen Armstrong, who all showed me the beauty of religion. From there I guess I just started embracing it more and more over the years, to get to where I am today.
Thanks for sharing a little of your story, David. I will check out your blog.
I really enjoyed that video, Mel. I had a couple of close encounters with God as a child and they never made sense to me, untiI I was about 13, read the bible, was baptized, met other believers. They knew the same God, they had experienced similar things! It was an astounding revelation.
Up until that point the world did not make any sense, the things I was observing and experiencing had no context. My parents were atheists and scientists and so all they could see from the evidence was that there must be something seriously wrong with me. Ha! All jokes aside, there really wasn’t anything wrong with me at all, they just had no framework in which to understand the spiritual, the supernatural.
I’m always fascinated to hear about rational science minded people talk about spirituality or religion.
Yeah, there’s a few respected scientists who talk about it. It is fascinating.
You said, “McGrath is a former atheist, molecular biologist at Oxford, who left the atheist indoctrination of his youth”
Was he forced to be an atheist Mel, I do not recall that he said this. I suspect you really do grasp what atheism is but a chance to try to degrade it as a recruiting and indoctrinating force damaging children’s brains just like Christianity does. This is typical Christian BS.
The undisputable facts are we are all born as atheists, most atheists do not force their kids to support an atheist doctrine or a particular evil secular sin, we do not force our kids to worship the devil or Harry Potter, we do not drag our kids into satanic churches, we do not make them read any holly science books or Richard Dawkins, we do not send our kids to schools to learn the bad morals of atheism or make our kids pray to any invisible scientific deities or dear departed Mr Hitchens etc. etc. Do you understand this massive difference Mel?
First, there is no such thing as a neutral position in life. That is naïve and false. No one lives in a vacuum of beliefs. While McGrath probably wasn’t forced into atheism, and there are no atheist churches, no worship, etc., it doesn’t follow that there was no indoctrination at all. All children are naturally indoctrinated, Sklyjd. To have a belief about anything you must first understand what that means. Children do not have any opinion about anything. They are born without a worldview. They are a blank slate. They wait for us to explain to them the questions about life, what is right and what is wrong. As children we tend to accommodate what our parents and teachers tell us. It’s might be more passive or subtle form, but it’s indoctrination just the same.
What??? Now you’re just parroting Richard Dawkins’ nonsense! You have no empirical proof for your “indisputable fact.” On the other hand, it could be argued that children naturally have faith. Dr. Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose.
Dr Barrett claimed anthropologists have found that in some cultures children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them.
(From article in Telegraph)
You can read Dr. Barrett’s book for yourself: “Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief“
Mel, in this instance, I have to say I think you’re waaaay off base. A newly born child has NO … NONE … ZILCH feelings/inclinations towards any kind of beliefs. And even as the child grows, there are NO leanings within the child towards or away any beliefs related to spirituality … UNLESS and/or UNTIL they begin to observe and/or question the dynamics of the family.
And even then, not every child is going to believe in the Christian god … as exemplified in the video on my blog (Dear Believer).
To say or think otherwise is purely prejudicial.
Of course. I think that’s exactly what I said, Nan. Here’s what I said:
But being born with a lack of any beliefs is NOT atheism. Atheism is not a neutral position. To be an atheist is to say you do not believe in god(s) or divine agency. A child would not be born with any beliefs, one way or the other. So, a child cannot be born an atheist anymore than he or she can be born a believer. To say they are born an atheist is an equally prejudicial statement.
On the other hand, as I alluded, a child would naturally question why he or she exists, and that there should be a reason for why we’re here. To ignore this question, or say we have no reason, or can never know, is an inherently unsatisfactory answer. I think that was Dr. Barrett’s point.
OK … point taken re: a child being born an “atheist” per se. I guess I overreacted because I’ve heard so many others make similar statements as your Dr. Barrett, e.g., Children’s normally and naturally developing minds make them prone to believe in divine creation — a perspective that I adamantly disagree with … for the reasons I mentioned.
As for your comment that children question their existence … I’m not sure I totally agree with that either. Mine never did … at least from a spiritual sense. Many will, however, ask how they “got here”– which generally initiates the discussion of the sperm and the egg … or something similar. 🙂
I don’t have a problem with that, Nan. My reaction was to Sklyjd’s absolute assertion: “the undisputable facts are we are all born as atheists.” That is equally not true. And I agree, I don’t think children would necessarily put it in a spiritual sense. Their thinking isn’t that sophisticated yet. I think Barrett’s point is that children are “prone” to a (simplistic) metaphysical explanation simply because it satisfies their curiosity.
OK, I see your point Mel, they technically are not being an active atheist. I can argue that if religion did not exist the children would be born in a neutral state because atheists would also not exist. However, because religions do exist, and often religious fanatics claim children are born with religious awareness or knowledge that must be installed by their god I will automatically claim the default is atheistic as a more accurate term.
The fact is that everybody is exposed to religions that have a god, gods or deities of some type and until this time you are an innocent child and you obviously do not believe in anything and that includes gods. This innocence is recognised and exploited by religions and that is disturbing, I might add. It then can be argued the child is born atheistic because they simply understand nothing and at this stage have not subjected to the persuasion of fanatical Sunday school teachers, priests and religious parents, church, prayers and the like.
The point being if they are left alone and decide in their own time to stay as they are without being religiously indoctrinated this atheistic term is the most accurate assertion. Of course, they could be born secular and become atheistic before being indoctrinated by religions if this is a more palatable term for religious appetites.
My point is that children are born neutral but with curious minds. Atheism is not a neutral position. It is to say there is no God. Agnosticism would be more neutral. So, the child will be greatly influenced by their parents and educational upbringing, either way. The fanatical and harmful examples are just that, harmful and fanatical examples. It has more to do with the psychological makeup of those raising the child than it does religion or atheism. I would not want my child raised by a fanatic anything, whether they be religious or anti-theist.
Sorry, Mel … I just can’t let this go by: Atheism is not a neutral position. It is to say there is no God.
Yes, it is a neutral position. There is no tangible evidence that any god(s) exist. To believe otherwise is totally based on faith, feelings, experiences, and (especially) teachings. This is why skldjd said we are all born atheists; that is, no beliefs … in anything.
What I think bothers you (and others) is the controversy that exists among believers and non-believers. One side is so certain there is a god that anyone who believes otherwise is simply in a state of denial. Of course, it works both ways. 🙂
As someone commented on my blog: … whenever believers and unbelievers argue, the best result they can obtain is: agree to disagree… Yup!
Nan, I do understand that atheists themselves like to portray atheism as a neutral position but there really is no such thing. What has happened is the meaning of the word has become muddled by this and evacuated of its meaning.
The etymology of the word:
It would be more correct to say children are born without any particular position about God. And while a more neutral adult could be a skeptic, indifferent, or agnostic, an atheist is not really neutral.
That is essentially true, Nan. Ironically, I think having an attitude of certainty is wrong, either way. A believer in God can be confident and have faith without the hubris of saying we can prove God. The problem is, there will always be some mystery about this. We cannot prove God anymore than an atheist can disprove God. So some humility is in order.
I also agree that it’s better (and more relationally mature) to agree to disagree on these things rather than ridicule anyone we disagree with. 🙂