This comes from a reply I posted in this thread. It's a commitment to catching yourself up on this thread, so long story short, I am replying to the following comment:
Notice how theists have to concoct ad hoc explanations for whatever. Well Jesus probably thought this....God might have wanted to do this...It is possible that God.....God wants us to..... all with absolutely zero evidence. It seems to be a product entirely of human imagination and culture.
Define evidence, and when you've done this, explain how that definition arose (that is, became treated like concrete, ground knowledge) from anything besides human imagination/culture.
The humorous part about where most atheists are on their path is that they haven't yet gone full atheism, rather, they haven't gone beyond it. You really have to go beyond atheism. This is the great irony of the whole thing; you're still living in a reality, the language of which suggests God. Your participation in arguments, or of having a belief against something, presupposes that very thing as part of your reality, even if only as a negation.
It's quite a difficult thing to articulate, but having taken that first "atheistic step" years ago, I realize now that there is still a step onto which you step down when you accept atheism. It is so close to your face, so to speak, that you can't sense it. This ambiguous trust that you have in things. That what is given to you in your experience is real. When you've first decided, "God is not real. We are alone," there is still a we. And that we assumes a plurality of "I's", and trusts that your personal I is right about all other I's, and that you have good reason to trust them, and to trust yourself really. There is still a very necessary form of coherence in all of your propositional attitudes that is necessary to even constitute the self-awareness of your I, that very one in which you implicitly trust. It is built of something. What is that coherence? What causes it and makes your I something you think you can trust?
Forget God for a while. Authentically.
Discover true skepticism. I mean really take yourself to the brink of suicidal nihilism. I know, because I've done it. You have to grasp - I mean really get a grasp in the core of your being - for what strong skepticism is all about. Where everything in your life and the world achieves a level of absurdity that goes beyond (well beyond) a teenage existentialist crisis and actually begins to impact your ability to interact with that world. I think you need this to really understand why skepticism has been the biggest problem in philosophy from the beginning, perhaps the most intractable of all problems. Only once you've realized that are you able to bring God back into the picture and start to understand that evidence is an extremely, extremely tricky notion. After this, the idea of God takes on a whole new meaning, stripped of all of the weighty baggage you probably had slung over God's shoulder from growing up and being given ideas about God and religion.
I have a generally easy time dismissing comfortable atheism. I know it when I see it. The comfortable atheist still trusts in something. She trusts in her atheism. You have to try to get to the floor of what causes you to believe anything is real at all. Then you realize science, as Peace has put it, involves an element of faith in order to deploy it epistemically. I tend to prefer saying that, at bottom, every one of us is walking on nothing. Supported by nothing, nothing except that which is useful - but that which is useful for one cannot represent ground truth for all, and so come to find ourselves resting on the fact that there are truths which cannot be had in the form of truths. Things which cannot be proven or falsified. The prover, so to speak, exists outside of our system.
If you think it is an ingenious little thing in your brain called scientific thinking, you're wrong.
I also know the person who has gone beyond atheism when I see them. They aren't smug, cock-sure and self-satisfied. They are not comfortable. They cannot say anything for sure and suddenly find themselves unsure in their opinions about anything. I think that if you are authentically searching and intellectually honest, the atheistic path does not lead to anything like a destination. No, if you go far enough it cuts every pillar out from underneath, and then you start the genuine pursuit of what truth could possibly even be.
As someone whose life has been disrupted by this at points, fairly substantially, I say with utter certainty that a comfortable atheist is simply not thinking hard enough. They and their position represent the core of inauthenticity. Simultaneously too brave to go with what they perceive as the crowd, but also too afraid to really move on, not to another crowd, but away from all crowds! Go be truly alone for a while and try to build reality up yourself. Find how hopelessly unequipped you are for it, and when you realize that belief is necessary, you can start exploring just what it is that forms the scientific philosophy and its ultimately unsupported bedrock.
What most atheists don't grasp is that conceptually, their truth still is God. It's simply that the negation of God has become God. The negative space which remains in the conceptual space you've emptied still is the grounds for your reality, and represents your God.
The most basic conundrum of any rational intellect is the necessity to defeat skepticism in order to act. Something acts to defeat skepticism. The coherence in your propositional attitudes which achieves this unity, causing one belief to reciprocally sing on behalf of another until your network of beliefs becomes a harmony, is achieved by a force which acts as if it were God. There is no explanation, no proving, no falsifying just what accomplishes this experience of unity. No information in the physical substance of a brain can do this - therefore it is necessarily external and distributed across one's environment.
The point is that even a negation of God acts as a scaffold or foundation for this unity, and it is unprovable, therefore functionally the equivalent of God - simply having different concepts attached to it. God doesn't go away, you simply attach to it a different understanding. There is no possibility in which this scaffolding is not coextensive with a valence - an implication for action. So atheists which claim that their actions and motivations are not dictated by a religion are missing the point. There is still an unprovable prover which is the ground for their entire ethical construct of the world - none can say there isn't a way to be, or a better way to be in the world. The negation of God is itself an ethical claim which relies upon a God. To say that this is only a functional explanation of God also misses the point. As the most primitive functional necessity of any meaningful thought about reality, it would be the equivalent of saying: "Well, that's easy! It only functions to make me, me! Duh. That's what it does, so now I have it!"
@PeaceSeeker @antiracistmetal @SarMegahhikkitha @persiangovernment