The Non Believers Beliefs – A Short Film

As a special project for the M.A.S.H. (Manitoba Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists) Film Festival which took place on August 14th in Winnipeg, Winnipeg Skeptics members Scott Carnegie and Gem Newman put together the short film The Non Believers Beliefs. Comments and critiques are welcome!

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19 thoughts on “The Non Believers Beliefs – A Short Film

  1. Mhirnatsu says:

    I am not an atheist for the following logical proof. I would like anyone’s thoughts on the matter.

    1) The definition of God includes any being that is worshipped as the supreme being of a religion/faith.
    2) There are sects of pagans that worship the living earth as their supreme being.
    3) The scientific theory known as the Gaia Theory (not to be confused with Gaia the greek goddess) puts forth the theory that the earth is itself a living organism.
    4) The Gaia Theory was upgraded from the status of hypothesis to the status of theory by the scientific community because it presented verifiable and testable predictions based on the theory.

    Therefore, the Gaia Theory is a part of current scientific theory by premise 4, which means that current scientific theory indicates that the Earth is a living organism. Premises 1 and 2 show that by definition, the living organism known as Earth qualifies as a deity. Therefore, assuming that the Earth exists, current scientific theory indicates that a deity exists.

    • Gem Newman says:

      First of all, that definition of “God” is absurd. Given Premise 1, I’m curious as to why you make reference to the Gaia Hypothesis at all. I assume that it’s because you want your argument to sound scientific, but in reality Premises 2 through 4 are unnecessary. The following formulation would be equally valid (and perhaps more sound, given the fact that Premise 4 seems to be disputed):

      1) The definition of God includes any being that is worshipped as the supreme being of a religion/faith.
      2) Many ancient religions worship the animals as gods.

      ∴ God exists.

      Regardless, I acknowledge that, given your definition of “God”, I would qualify as a gnostic theist, rather than an agnostic atheist.

      So what?

      • Mhirnatsu says:

        Actually, the reason that I make reference to the Gaia Theory is because referring to the ancient religions that worship animals as gods would have a problem. Those religions typically attributed powers to the “gods” that they worshipped beyond what was naturally occurring in the animals. Therefore there is a difference between the gods being worshipped and the animals that exist. The religion that I looked at does not attribute any abilities to their deity other than what is naturally occurring.

        Additionally, that is not “my” definition of God. As I wrote to Bob below, I do not have a personal definition of God. I use the definitions as written in dictionaries. To go beyond the explanation that I gave to Bob, I could not define God, and claim to be an atheist. Were I to both be an atheist and provide the definition of God that I use to justify my being an atheist, I would be guilty of limiting the definition of god to justify my being an atheist.

        If I were to assert the negative of being an atheist, the appropriate action would be to allow theists to define god and judge whether I believe or disbelieve in the gods put forth by theists, or else I would not be “One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods” as per the English definition of atheist; I would merely be “One who disbelieves in a particular set of gods.”

      • Gem Newman says:

        Yes, yes, that’s trivial. But the way that most of use the term “atheist” is with respect to a particular god-claim. I am also not in the habit of defining gods. Here’s how it works: You propose a deity, and I tell you whether or not I believe in it. “Atheist” is a quick, simply way of saying, “Those gods that most of you go on about? I tend not to believe in any of them.”

        If you come to me and say, “That boulder over there? That’s my god,” I’ll respond with, “Fine. I believe in that. With respect to your god, I’m a theist.” If you then start making supernatural claims about it, we might have an issue.

        If I say, “I don’t believe in magic,” and you respond, “Surely you do! The dictionary definition of ‘magic’ clearly states that it is ‘the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand’. You must believe in that!” you’re equivocating. That’s clearly not what I mean when I say “magic”. Similarly with “gods”. I don’t believe in any supernatural gods. As the common understanding of the term “god” involves the supernatural, however, I don’t feel the need to be so specific.

        As I’ve already stated, I accept that the Earth exists, and if you accept it as a god (which you do, if you accept the definition of “God” that you yourself provided), then with respect to that “god” I am a theist.

        So again, I’m compelled to ask: So what? What does this wordplay accomplish? Aside from wasting everyone’s time, that is.

      • Mhirnatsu says:

        I understand your point of view, and it seems that you understand my reasoning.

        As to the “so what?” part of it, as I said at the beginning of my original post, I was purely looking for people’s thoughts on the matter. One of the things that fascinate me in life is people’s thought process, or lack of such in some people’s cases.(and no, I’m not referring to anyone in particular, it’s just with the amount of conversations I get into to explore this, there are many people who don’t really think about much) And where I had this discussion on another board, someone suggested that I post it here because I would be most likely to have people who would provide intelligent conversations on the matter.

        Through this discussion (along with the discussion below with Bob) I have learned things about how people think, and how they differentiate things. That is one reason why my post below starts with “That is an interesting reply, and I thank Dr. DiCarlo for his insight.”

        I also learned things by watching the video above. One such thing is the discussion on the “golden rule”. I wonder if they even realize that that the golden rule is a quote out of the bible.

        It also tells me that either a) growing up, the churches I went to interpreted the bible differently, or b) people have some funny ideas about, among others, the christian faith.

        Growing up, I was raised christian, nowadays, I study all religions to find the parts that are worth keeping, and discarding the parts that are not. During that time when I was forced to go to church, there was never any threat of going to hell; there was never any feeling that you had to be good because god was watching you; there was never any self-hatred for not being perfect. You helped people out because it was the right thing to do. You did unto others as you would have them do unto you, not for fear of repercussions, but because that was some good advice that was provided, and it happened to come from religious texts. I wonder if people actually appreciate how much of what is accepted as moral behaviour in western society came from the religious roots of the country. For example, in other countries, (like some of the mid-east countries) it is moral to kill people in certain situations, and it’s not extreme situations, it’s situations where people in the European and western worlds would consider this behaviour ridiculous.

        I guess that’s probably part of the reason why I’m so curious about people’s thought processes is in part because of that. I have had many people make what to me seems like absurd claims about religion. (both from theists and atheists) Do I claim that the religions have all the answers? No. Do I claim that atheists have all the answers? No. But when I hear self-proclaimed atheists say ridiculous statements like “Faith based education is an oxymoron” (I will not name names, but he knows who he is) it gets me curious about what makes them say things like that, because my experience teaches me that the opposite is true. I got a better education in science and math in a catholic school in Edmonton than I would have in a public school in Winnipeg. (For example, when I moved to Winnipeg in the summer before I entered grades 4, the kids were just learning their multiplication tables. At the catholic school, I was taught multiplication in grade 1.)

      • Gem Newman says:

        Yes, I can guarantee that those who referenced the “Golden Rule” were aware that it can be found in the Bible. However, it’s worth noting that it didn’t originally come from the Bible, but instead variants are found in almost every ethical tradition. Personally, I prefer the Silver Rule variant.

      • Mhirnatsu says:

        Yeah, I’m personally partial to the way that the golden rule is written in the Wiccan Rede “These eight words the Rede fulfill, an ye harm none, do what ye will.”

        The silver rule is also a good one.

        I also tend to follow, “Don’t judge others by your standards.” I find it is unfair to expect others to live up to the standards that you set; a person should only be judged by their own standards, or the standards set out by law.

  2. I took the liberty of asking Dr. Christopher DiCarlo’s opinion on Mhirnatsu’s logical proof. Here is his kind reply.

    Mhirnatsu – I am not an atheist for the following logical proof. I would like anyone’s thoughts on the matter.

    1) The definition of God includes any being that is worshipped as the supreme being of a religion/faith.

    Dr. DiCarlo – This is his definition of ‘God’. Many define gods who are not worshipped nor are connected to religious faith e.g. lesser Hindu gods, Norwegian gods, African gods of folklore, etc.

    Mhirnatsu – 2) There are sects of pagans that worship the living earth as their supreme being.

    Dr. DiCarlo – OK…

    Mhirnatsu – 3) The scientific theory known as the Gaia Theory (not to be confused with Gaia the greek goddess) puts forth the theory that the earth is itself a living organism.

    Dr. DiCarlo – Gaia is by no means an accepted scientific theory. Gaia was originally an ancient Greek earth goddess who gave birth to all the gods and Titans by mating with the sky (Uranus), the sea (Pontus) and Hell (Tartarus). Humans then sprung up from her.

    As a scientific hypothesis, the concept of Gaia was proposed by James Lovelock (chemist) and co-developed with Lynn Margulis (microbiologist) in the ’70’s. When first presented, their ideas were not well received in the scientific community. Some now consider their model of an Earth capable of behaving like a complete complex organism to offer insights into looking at geophysics, earth system sciences and other systems-based ecological studies.

    Mhirnatsu – 4) The Gaia Theory was upgraded from the status of hypothesis to the status of theory by the scientific community because it presented verifiable and testable predictions based on the theory.

    Dr DiCarlo – It’s still considered an hypothesis as far as I know. But even if it were a scientific theory, what he says does not follow consistently.

    Therefore, the Gaia Theory is a part of current scientific theory by premise 4, which means that current scientific theory indicates that the Earth is a living organism. Premises 1 and 2 show that by definition, the living organism known as Earth qualifies as a deity. Therefore, assuming that the Earth exists, current scientific theory indicates that a deity exists.”

    Unfortunately, he has left out a very important detail: consciousness. The Earth does not (as far as anyone can tell) possess any directive or incentives. It simply functions entirely according to the processes of natural principles and physical laws. Without the very important element of consciously directing and ‘intending’ its creations, it would appear that his argument can be defeated by pointing out how he has committed the fallacy of disanalogy i.e. his comparison of the Earth as a deity and the way in which deities are usually defined and praised (as consciously, intending agents), are far too different to give his argument any weight.

    You can tell him that you appreciate his enthusiasm but until he can demonstrate to you how the Earth consciously goes about its business in a consciously intentional manner and that humans are able to identify these intentions and in so doing, praise it, he has a lot of work to do. In other words, his “logical proof” needs quite a bit of work.

    • Mhirnatsu says:

      That is an interesting reply, and I thank Dr. DiCarlo for his insight.

      “This is his definition of ‘God’.”

      Actually that is one of the many definitions of God provided by the dictionaries. Mine is undefined, as I believe that the definitions are broad and varied. If I were to accept only his definition of god, (one that requires consciousness, presumably based on some of the major mainstream religions, and as such probably also requires a supernatural component) then I would not be able to properly define god, because if it/they existed, I do not believe that the human mind could properly comprehend it’s complexities well enough to define it. However, that is neither here nor there.

      I would question why he brings up Gaia the goddess when the proof specifically says “not to be confused with the greek goddess”

      I am also confused as to why he says at one point that the Gaia Theory is not an accepted scientific theory, and then later says that he is not aware if it has been elevated to the status of Theory. I do applaud him for the willingness to admit that he may not be fully informed about the subject.

      I would also question why he brings in the question of consciousness. I would ask why he has decided that consciousness is a requirement? I guess consciousness is a part of his definition of a deity. If that is a requirement of his definition, then his point of view makes sense. I can respect that.

      Although I would agree that consciousness is a requirement of certain religion’s definition for their deity, it is not necessarily required for all groups. As I mentioned, I know of pagan sects that worship the Earth, which they consider to be the divine being, (generally considered to be god) but they do not consider it to be conscious.

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