Re: atheism vs theism

From: Steve Petermann (
Date: Wed Sep 13 2000 - 11:45:54 EDT

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    I've had a lot of discussions with atheists and the one thing that is both a
    hallmark of religion and a non-refutable aspect is religious experience. By
    religious experience I don't mean just some rare dramatic event. What I am
    referring to is the underlying sense of the sacred that is universal to all
    peoples and is talked about all through scripture and characterized in
    ritual and piety. Atheists must always deny any objective validity to those
    types of experiences because they point beyond the material world. Also,
    even though religious experience is not empirical evidence, per se, as a
    universal phenomenon it also cannot be dismissed out of hand. Atheists
    often try to explain it away as a strictly psychological aberration or
    phenomenon with no objective truth, but if so, they should be obliged to
    provide convincing arguments to support that position. They cannot,
    however, do that because just as God cannot be the object of empirical
    proof, God can also not be disproved by that means or even by reason. Even
    parsimony is not a valid final argument against theism because of its
    universality. In the final analysis the belief or disbelief in God is a
    matter of faith. For those who are open to the sacred in life, they may
    without hard proof choose to believe in God or not.

    As an aside, I view many atheists as having a similar psychological makeup
    as fundamentalists. They require a high degree of certainty for belief(
    must have empirical evidence ) and they view their revelatory resource(
    typically science ) as absolute and sufficient. Both those features
    can sometimes make for a rigid, dogmatic, militancy with a strong aversion
    to anything contrary to their view.

    All the Best,
    Steve Petermann

    > I was asked by the Philosophy and Religion student organization on campus
    > I wanted to "debate" a professor of their department who is an atheist---I
    > am supposed to represent the theistic point of view. I have accepted.
    > comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Moorad

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