Atheism/"invisible sky man"

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Question
1.Why do atheists describe God(s) as "invisible sky men?" Literally no theists believes in invisible sky men. I myself am a Germanic Polytheist, but even we do not believe in "invisible sky men." For example our God Thor is not a red-bearded man flying around in a chariot, rather He is the consciousness of the storm itself as Odin is the spirit of inspiration. I have issues with Christians, but I understand it enough to be irritated by atheist misrepresentation of their religion as one of my best friends is a Christian.
2. Why do atheists like to paint theists as idiots? Many of the most brilliant scientists, writers and philosophers all believed in God or Gods.

Answer
Hello.

The use of a term like "invisible sky man" is intended as a metaphor only - not to be taken literally. It means proposing any unseen and unproven entity that is also assigned anthropomorphic attributes, i.e. wisdom, goodness, etc.

Not all atheists paint theists as "idiots". However, some do perhaps because they feel that instead of arguing on the basis of facts, logic and proofs, they resort to emotionalism or worse, arguments from authority  - that is, bible quotes. Which is considered a logical fallacy.


While it is true many brilliant scientists have pronounced themselves as theists, most of these have admitted they do not accept a personal God. In other words, they don't buy the Judaeo-Christian concept.

The main problem for theists lies in the very use of the term "God". What does it mean exactly?

Turns out it means many different things depending on whom you ask.  Once all and sundry agree the word "God" is only a regulative ideal of the mind, a verbal symbol to represent a concept that can't be really processed or extracted (differentiated) as a separate reality, then we can move away from false onto-theology and useless polarizations - say between "believers" and "unbelievers".

What one then has and can debate, perhaps, is the (subjective, and relative)  "God-concept" while admitting the actual, real REAL entity is beyond description via a language whose function is to fragment reality.

As I noted in my recent book (‘Beyond Atheism, Beyond God’), humans with their limited neural capacity aren’t in any remote position to define or know “God” since the noun (G-o-d) isn’t the same as the entity. Since the entity is supposedly “infinite” then no finite brain can comprehend it. The best it can do is forge approximate god-concepts which are relative, limited and subjective.

All of which reinforces the point that when people use the word G-o-d they’re not talking or writing about an actual entity but a limited construct or ideation configured as a noun, which we call a God concept. People BELIEVE they are referencing the real entity by use of the noun but they are deluding themselves. It would be analogous to me going to a restaurant – seeing a ‘steak’ picture on the menu – then tearing the image out, consuming it and asserting I’d eaten a ‘steak’.

If then theists could admit to the above limitations, I warrant there'd be far fewer conflicts with atheists, even diehard ones!  

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Philip A. Stahl

Expertise

I specialize in the areas of scientific materialism and consciousness described as a materialist epiphenomenon. Also can answer questions pertaining to general atheism, atheist-agnostic differences etc.

Experience

I have been an atheist for over 36 yrs. and have written four books on the subject: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), and 'Atheism" A Beginner's Handbook', 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Organizations
Intertel, Mensa, American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society, American Geophysical Union

Publications
Atheist articles: 'The American Atheist' magazine, assorted U.S. newspapers (e.g. Baltimore Sun, Denver Post); papers-articles published in Intertel's Journal: Integra. Books: 'The Atheist's Handbook to Modern Materialism'(2000), 'Atheism: A Beginner's Handbook' (2007), 'Dialectical Atheism' (2011), 'Beyond Atheism, Beyond God' (2013)

Education/Credentials
Master of Philosophy in Physics. Also took more than 3 yrs. of theology and metaphysics courses at a Catholic University (1964-67) - before I became an atheist. Thus, I have much more religious familiarity & background than many atheists.

Awards and Honors
Writers' Digest Award for the essay 'The Atheist in America' (2000), Government of Barbados research in solar physics award (1980-84), AAS Solar Physics Award (1984)

Past/Present Clients
American Atheists, Barbados Philosophical Society, Harrison College- Barbados, Colorado Springs Freethinkers

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