"Beyond God and atheism: Why I am a 'possibilian'" by David Eagleman

“So it seems we know too little to commit to strict atheism, and too much to commit to any religion.” http://j.mp/d0fPNB
I found David Eagleman’s essay interesting.

You do stretch my brain! Actually, it does need stretching.

This is good. I tend to agree with him and a moderate approach to problems is always a good starting point unless we’re absolutely sure that what we have are 100% perfect and we’re 100% informed, which is not the case.

So in the end, I think it’s much better not to completely identify with either groups of what I would say, the extremes end of the scale, but to keep an open mind for both sides’ point of views. I think there’s different things to be learned from both sides–generally speaking, religion tends to give you an emotional compass in life while science provides a logical and reasonable approach to problem solving.

Just my 2 cents.

Atheism is often incorrectly (or improperly) defined as the belief that god does not exist. In actuality, atheism is the lack of belief in God. There is a difference. The atheist says merely that there is insufficient evidence that god exists, therefore, I do not believe. In the same way that one lacks a beliefs in unicorns, fairies, and leprechauns and atheist lacks a belief in god. Now, someone might say I don’t believe in fairies . . . but they are not saying they foreclose all possibility of fairies existing, but that it seems highly highly unlikely.

The author seems to state that we shouldn’t believe in “strict” atheism, i.e., a belief that there is no god. I think this is a valid point. Dawkins places himself on god scale at a 6, with 7 being hard/strict atheism.

I’d argue that this author and his “possibilian” theory is basically advocating exactly what the authors he portends to criticism are advocating. Free inquiry based on evidence using the scientific method.

I don’t like the word atheist since it literally means “non-theist”. So then you have to define what a theist is. And theism can be defined as the belief that at least one deity exists, and this deity interacts with the universe in some say. Ok, well then what’s a deity? A deity is a supernatural being. Well, what does “supernatural” mean? And you have to follow this chain back and back.

In the modern western context, I think atheist mainly refers to someone who rejects the proposition that Jesus of Nazereth was divine as well as the Christian conception of god. But it could also be someone who rejects the Abrahamic god in all his forms (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.). Or it could be someone who rejects the proposition that there are deities (thus also excluding the Norse gods, Aztec gods, etc.) who interact with the world.

If this is the definition of deity:

Deities are depicted in a variety of forms, but are also frequently expressed as having human form. Some faiths and traditions consider it blasphemous to imagine or depict the deity as having any concrete form. They are usually immortal, and are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions similar to those of humans. Such natural phenomena as lightning, floods, storms, other ‘acts of God’, and miracles are attributed to them, and they may be thought to be the authorities or controllers of various aspects of human life (such as birth or the afterlife). Some deities are asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, to be the givers of human law and morality, to be the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, and to be the designers and creators of the Earth or the universe. Notable deities include Tsui Goab, Mangar-kunjer-kunja, Shiva, Yuanshi Tianzun, Ra, Zeus, Anu, Ahura Mazda, Vesta, Odin, Yahweh, Quetzalcoatl, Ika Omkara, Dirawong, Jupiter, and Exu among others.

then perhaps a reasonable definition of atheism is “the lack of belief that these sorts of beings exist”. Under that definition, there are probably some very thoughtful theologians who would qualify as atheists.

I’m not sure the word atheism has any useful meaning when talking about Dharmic or Taoic religions.

Atheist and Atheism simply refer to too many things. Someone could be an atheist with respect to the Christian god, but still believe in Tarot cards.

Personally, I would like a word that denotes a lack of belief in the supernatural. As Dawkins has said, if there actually is a god of some kind who created the universe and is involved in its affairs, then that god is a natural being. It probably evolved. If it didn’t evolve, then who created it? If it’s meant to be eternal and without a creator, then what does that even mean? And if god can be eternal and without a creator, then why can’t the universe be eternal and without a creator?

I agree with the poster who said that the author is basically advocating the same position as those atheist writers he seems to criticize. I do like his point that we have no idea what’s going on. For all we know, our entire universe could be some small part of the anatomy of some giant alien who is completely unaware of our existence.

interesting article: http://tinyurl.com/39dggy7

“Have a question about religion? Ask an atheist” http://su.pr/29Sv2X

To commasplice: I think that your definition of atheism is closer to agnosticism than atheism.
Atheism denies the existence of God, other deity or divine being; agnosticism simply do not believe because there is evidence through the experience.
At least, so it says the diccionary.


Atheism simply means “not a theist.” Theism is the belief in a god. So an atheist does not have a belief in god. To me, that does not mean an explicit rejection that god doesn’t exist. Agnosticism is the belief that “we cannot possibly know whether god exists or not” therefore we never believe or disbelieve. An agnostic is basically throwing his/her hands up in the air and saying - I don’t know, let’s just forget about it and go have a coffee :slight_smile:


  1. Absence of, or rejection of, belief in existence of a god or gods.
  2. The stance that a deity or deities do not exist.

Usage notes

* The term atheism may refer either to an explicit belief that God or gods do not exist (sense 2 above), or to the mere lack of an explicit belief that God or gods do exist (sense 1 above). Some speakers do not distinguish between these senses; others distinguish them by using the terms strong atheism and weak atheism (respectively), or by using atheism to mean “strong atheism” and agnosticism or nontheism to mean “weak atheism”. (Similar distinctions may be drawn for related terms, such as atheist.) The distinction between strong atheism and weak atheism tends to be made primarily by atheists themselves.


  1. The view that absolute truth or ultimate certainty is unattainable, especially regarding knowledge not based on experience or perceivable phenomena.
  2. The view that the existence of God or of all deities is unknown, unknowable, unproven, or unprovable.
  3. Doubt, uncertainty, or scepticism regarding the existence of a God or of all deities…

I agree with your last comment, but I think that differs from your first comment. At least, it gives me that impression. Or I may not have understood you well, as I am starting to learn English.

“Atheism is often incorrectly (or improperly) defined as the belief that god does not exist.” First comment

Atheism 1. Absence of, or rejection of, belief in existence of a god or gods. 2. The stance that a deity or deities do not exist. (second comment)

However, with your last comment, you clear up definitions. At least, I have better understood.