Mystics and/or Atheists

James McGrath, a theologically progressive Christian, has a post up discussing the many varied conceptions of God: Mystics and/or Atheists.

As I indicated on another post, the word ‘God’ can be used to refer to so many things, that it is accurate to say that we are all theists and all atheists in relation to some god or another (with the possible exception of polytheists who accept every god presented to them). The most hardened skeptic usually believes in the universe or the laws of nature, so if one of those is your conception of God, then you’d define very few people as atheists.

6 thoughts on “Mystics and/or Atheists

  1. Thanks ‘SAP’, you did it again – sent me off searching, ended up reading about agency, the unconscious, Kant, and Jung for 2 days going on 3 now, with much more to read. Oh well 🙂 I’ll get to ‘The Righteous Mind’ eventually.


    1. That’s our function is to send each other off on research binges 🙂

      I thought of you this week when I heard a recommendation on a podcast (I think it was the latest Rationally Speaking) for ‘Stranger To Ourselves’. The other people on the podcast confirmed that it was a seminal work. Sounds like I’m definitely going to have to make time to read it. My reading list is getting backed up.

      I’ve been reading books on the history of science lately, which is putting the current scientific paradigms in perspective. A perspective about how little we really know.


      1. Research binges – yes!

        Per ‘The New Unconscious’, Hassin/Uleman/Bargh(editors) 2005, John Kihlstrom introduced the “new unconscious” with this paper:

        ‘The Cognitive Unconscious’, Kihlstrom 1987

        Click to access ScienceCogUncog.pdf

        Warning: The above may induce an uncontrollable urge to run out and find a copy of ‘Strangers …’ 🙂

        The Google Books preview of ‘The New Unconscious’ is good too – it includes the majority of Part 1.


          1. Thanks, I’ll check both out – have to finish the philosophical zombie Wikipage 1st though, and I have to say that so far it isn’t improving my estimation of the utility of philosophy as a whole.


          2. I can see that. While I do think philosophy is good for sharpening the questions, I’m rapidly losing faith in its conclusions. But dismissing philosophy would have consequences. Positions on free will, dualism, God, and many other topics are philosophical positions, beyond what empirical investigation can currently tell us.


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