REPLY #15 TO
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I'm agnostic because I understand that the issues of belief in or existence of supernatural beings goes beyond
questions about the God of the Bible. For me to declare myself to be an atheist, I would have to be able to state definitively that no such beings of any kind exist. Since the range of possibilities for such beings is essentially infinite, I
can't make such a declaration.
(R) on what information do you base the statement "..the range of possiblities for such beings is essentially infinite..."? have any of our observances of nature indicated or pointed to a supernatural realm?
(MB) Just basic logic. Beings such as the God of the Bible belong to the realm of the supernatural. By definition, the "supernatural" encompasses anything and everything for which there is no explanation in nature or which does not follow the laws of nature. That would make the possibilities for such things essentially infinite. Of course, we have no evidence for anything supernatural, but that doesn't mean that no such thing exists. But, until we find an example of something
supernatural, any and all claims in favor of such things must be considered to be dubious, at best.
(R) should one, practically speaking, always keep an open mind when listening to claims of the paranormal or supernatural?
(MB) Of course. One should keep an open mind when listening to *any* claims. Since all claims will be subjected to the same standards of evidence, the bogus ones will quickly fall by the wayside in the minds of thinking people. If we don't keep open minds, we risk missing out on breakthrough ideas or findings that might, upon first hearing, sound too unusual for immediate acceptance.
(R) also, generally speaking, atheism usually has two types of philosophical proponets, the strong and weak atheist. the strong atheist makes the statement, "i believe god does not exist," while the weak atheist states "i do not believe in the existence of god." the latter seems to be the most reasonablly sound of all philosophical positions on god.. no evidence, no reason to suspect a god exists.
(MB) There will always be varying degrees within any general classification of beliefs. That's why I prefer to state specific views rather than label myself with a broad and generic term. I'm rather confident that the God described in the Bible does not exist, but I cannot say with certainty that no supernatural being (all-powerful or not) described in any of Man's other religions (past or present) or not yet described or known by Man actually exists.
(R) granted, absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence, but, hey, i'm willing to bet that it is in this case!
(MB) Heck, people wager vast sums of money on propositions that have much worse odds of actually happening. In this case, we must again go back to understanding where the burden of proof rests. Since, as I said before, the possibilities for supernatural things are vast, if we are to accept the existence of a specific incarnation of one of them, there must be some compelling evidence to support it. Otherwise, skepticism is the more reasonable position.