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Bill Gates: agnostic/athiest or agnostic/theist?

Any written or recorded evidence that helps answer said question?

agnostic/athiest
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

It's a moot point, Bill Gates is God.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

"I don't have any evidence of that... Just in terms of allocation of time resources,
religion is not very efficient.  There's alot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."
-- Bill Gates, when asked about religion and God's existence in "Time" magazine

http://www.antioffline.com/HUM/bill.gates.quotes.html


Though I read in Hard Drive when Bill Gates was younger he won a prize for the best memorising of the Sermon on the Mount at Church

Matthew Lock
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

When in doubt, ask yourself..

WWBD ?

.NET Evangelist
Thursday, December 11, 2003

http://www.celebatheists.com/entries/atheist_13.html#5

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Thursday, December 11, 2003

So, who cares about this? I don't understand it.

I'm an atheist, yet, I never ask myself what religion different politicians and important people are of - I don't care.

Does it make any difference whether Bill Gates is an atheist or not?.

Orson
Thursday, December 11, 2003

One person's QI is inversely proportional to yours theism.

So, the Bill's success implies he is atheist.

Ik
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Maybe he was just curious?  I don't understand why you want to try to pick a fight with the guy.  Obviously you care somewhat, or else you would've just ignored the question.

not mr. johnson
Thursday, December 11, 2003

The worrying thing is, does Bill Gates see God as competition.

'Apparantly the human brain is just like a computer.  Why isn't it running Windows?'

'People, I'm noticing that everybody is breathing air and doing it for free.  Some guy called God is giving the stuff away.'

'Sun light.  This stuff is even worse than their java"

Ged Byrne
Thursday, December 11, 2003

> It's a moot point, Bill Gates is God.

Mod parent down ! Bill Gates is Evil ! Linus is God !

Oops! Sorry guys. Wrong forum.

First Post !
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I think it's interesting that athiests think so much of something that they don't believe in.

'A lot of people are atheists... until the end.'

NotAnAtheist
Thursday, December 11, 2003

At least they are thinking about something.  I am an atheist and don't have any issues with theists.  I just can't respect those who don't "practice what they preach". 

Meditate upon your role in life, study your Bible and make the choice; but here comes the hard part, live that choice.

cheeto
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I absolutely agree, cheeto.  While I can't speak for anyone else, but myself, that's what I try to do; day-in and day-out.

NotAnAtheist
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Half the people on Slashdot believe that Linus Torvalds will ascend bodily into heaven. (ok, that was an old joke from the "Suckdot" edition of suck.com).

Anyway, I've always considered it the height of intellectual arrogance to be an atheist. Agnosticism I can understand, I have no problem with skepticism. Atheism dismisses a possibility that no mortal person is in a position to really know.

Admittedly, religious faith can be construed as arrogance exactly on the same terms.

So, Bill's an atheist? "Duh." The guy could afford to buy the moon and terra form it for a colony of radioactive cockroaches. I would posit that this level of wealth causes a person to believe in themselves as a "Godhead".

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Anyway, I've always considered it the height of intellectual arrogance to not believe in invisible unicorns. Agnosticism about this I can understand, I have no problem with skepticism. Ainvisibleunicornism dismisses a possibility that no mortal person is in a position to really know.

Admittedly, invisible unicorn belief can be construed as arrogance exactly on the same terms.

Mongo
Thursday, December 11, 2003


No matter what your POV, comparing believing in God to not believing in an invisible unicorn is like comparing advanced calculus to simple math.

It's also rather insulting.

NotAnAtheist
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Especially to Mongo:

http://www.celebatheists.com/entries/atheist_35.html#4

J. Michael Straczynski, Producer/Author/Script Writer     

Straczynski is best known as the producer and creative force behind the science fiction television series Babylon 5.
...

"If I have to be honest in looking at the world 250 years from now, I have to say that people will still believe at that time, and I must treat that with respect--the same way I'd deal with scientific concepts. Because, truthfully, science and religion are two sides of the same coin. The methodology is vastly different--one relies on faith while the other relies on scientific method--both are endeavors to understand who we are, how we got here, where we are going, and what we are here to do. I feel that one must approach both of those endeavors with equal respect."

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Oh, and bite me.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 11, 2003

And equally stupid..

comparing believing in unicorns to God...geesh.

Who me?
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I guess comparing God to unicorn belief is a geek thing. IE: the superannuated kid who doesn't think that there are important questions about existence, meaning, etc. that deserve any respect.

Anyway, flame off I hope.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Help!  Get me a fire extinguisher!!

I for one have no intention getting into a religious flamewar, especially on JOS.

I have to go into a conference call right away, but I'll try to add some non-flammable explanations and comments later.

Lighten up, already.  Sheesh.

Mongo
Thursday, December 11, 2003

We're used to religious arguments on JoS.  Just not _religious_ ones.

:)

NotAnAtheist
Thursday, December 11, 2003

"Anyway, I've always considered it the height of intellectual arrogance to be an atheist".

Must ... not ... get ... sucked ... into ... responding ... =-)

Atheism is not about absolute knowledge.  No one is omniscient or infallible.  If the barest possibility of any doubt is what makes an agnostic, then we're all agnostics, and theists are just as much a fiction as atheists.  A label that can describe everything describes nothing.  I would rather reserve the term "agnostic" for those people who are truly on the fence and lean neither way.

I'm an atheist.  I don't believe in God in the same way that I don't believe that Al Qaeda operatives are going to detonate a nuclear bomb in Podunk, Idaho at 9:13 tomorrow morning.  That is to say -- I don't know for absolute certain, I'm not psychic and I can't predict the future.  But it strikes me as a very unlikely prediction to come true.

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I'm an apathist

i like i
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Many people consider the existence of God to be axiomatic. That is, they consider it obviously true, in a similar way that 1 + 1 = 2. With these people, it is impossible to have a rational discussion on this topic. You can usually spot them quite easily, as they start to use standard fallacious arguments (Appeal to Authority: "Some really smart guy believes….", Ad Hominem: "Atheists are usually druggies" or "Atheists are very arrogant").

Usually, it's best to ignore these people, because often if your arguments are well reasoned, they quickly become emotional and combative (When this happens with someone who I consider to be an open thinker, I suspect it's due to an inability to resolve or even recognize their own cognitive dissonance), which can cause the whole discussion to devolve into little more than an exchange of thinly veiled insults and disparagements.

I realize what I just wrote seems to put theists in bad light. I'm athiest, but I have had productive discussions with theists in the past (i.e. well reasoned arguments are discussed, not blindly attacked).

That being said, there are zillion appropriate discussion forums where this stuff is discussed, and this isn't one of them (Bill Gates religious beliefs are important how?). If you enjoy the same pointless arguing over and over again, then head over to alt.religion.atheist.

DKatz
Thursday, December 11, 2003

I think I said in my post that triggered Mongo's unicorn comparison that the position of someone who "believes" can be regarded identically as intellectual arrogance.

In both cases the believer and the non-believer have faith that their (unknowable) concept of the universe is correct and in neither case is it actually based upon provable facts.

I would therefore go so far as to say that the atheist *has* a personal religion. He believes that God is non-existent, which is unprovable.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, December 11, 2003

"
I would therefore go so far as to say that the atheist *has* a personal religion. He believes that God is non-existent, which is unprovable."


Thats exactly right.  One of the problems with religious discussions is that whether you believe in god or not affects how you interpret the 'facts' of the case.
Ie, for most (all?) people the decision to believe or disbelieve in god is made first, and all the 'facts' are interpreted from that point.

or, to put it another way, one persons parting of the sea is another persons freak tidalwave..

Its all dependent on how you slice reality :)

FullNameRequired
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Bored: what do you mean by "provable"?

Never underestimate the human ability to dispute stuff.  Even stuff that seems blatantly obvious to most people.

As far as I know, there's only one thing absolutely provable and that's that I exist.  Everything else I take on the basis of my senses and my reason, both of which could be flawed.

The sky is blue, but I can't prove it.  Just looks that way, man.

Like I said before, atheism isn't about absolute certainty because such a thing doesn't exist.  If that makes us all agnostics, so be it, but I say that perverts the original and intending meaning of "agnostic".

Alyosha`
Thursday, December 11, 2003

"The sky is blue, but I can't prove it.  Just looks that way, man."

But you do know it looks that way.  In other words, you know you exist, and you know you have certain sensory experiences, which makes two things that you know.

Jim Rankin
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Dear Aloysha,
                    The hypothesis that one exists is eminently unprovable.

Dear Bored,
                  At least we have some idea what invisible unicorns look like :)

Stephen Jones
Thursday, December 11, 2003

FullNameRequired said:
One of the problems with religious discussions is that whether you believe in god or not affects how you interpret the 'facts' of the case.
Ie, for most (all?) people the decision to believe or disbelieve in god is made first, and all the 'facts' are interpreted from that point.

Interestingly, lots of psychological research demonstrates that the bulk of people's beliefs and opinions are often formed in precisely this manner. In all kinds of areas, humans have an extraordinarily strong propensity to attach great weight to evidence that supports their existing hypotheses and to ignore evidence that contradicts them.

This is one reason I happen to think the scientific method is a great way of imposing an objective process on inherently subjective judgments: Even people who disagree with your fundamental premises can run an experiment or interpret your data, and if they come to the same conclusions, that says more than a bunch of people who already agreed with you coming to the same conclusions.

Incidentally, another interesting psychological phenomenon is that people tend strongly to attribute their successes to their personal superiority and their failures to environmental circumstances beyond their control... but for other people, they make exactly the opposite assumption.

John C.
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Oh, and I have a serious question for the theistic folks here. I don't intend this to seem glib at all, even though it may come off that way -- I'm just trying to understand something that I have no personal introspection about as someone who's basically a born agnostic atheist (i.e. I see no evidence for believing in a god or gods, and have no personal faith that inclines me to believe in such, but I acknowledge that I have no way to know for certain that god(s) do(es)n't exist).

Anyway, the question: How did you come to believe in your specific god(s), whatever he/she/it/they may be? For the majority of people here I would imagine that to be some variant of the Judeo-Christian god, but even if it's not... what I wonder is why you believe in your *particular* notion of god and not, say, Zeus or Shiva or Osiris or Allah?

John C.
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Ok, let me start by stating a couple of general requirements for continuing this discussion on my part (other people can of course discuss to their hearts' content, of course).

There are people of high intelligence and good will who have differing opinions on many things, including the belief or non-belief in God. if we can't agree about this, we probably don't have enough common ground a meaningful discourse about much of anything.

I am not especially interested in debating the existence or non-existence of God in this forum (or in most forums, for that matter), my interest in this topic is more inclined toward questions of reason and logic, which is why I think this topic _may_ be marginally legitimate here. Insofar as I make arguments related to religious issues, it is only in the previous context. I apologize in advance if I offend anyone, and I'm perfectly willing to forget about the personal insults I've received so far.


Bored:

You presume too much from my unicorn transposition, I think. The point is just this: for someone who has no reason to believe in imaginary thing X, then they have no reason to believe in imaginary thing Y.  Whether or not X and Y are in fact imaginary isn't really the point, it's that if you can transpose one for the other without loss of meaning in the same argument, and you don't like one but do the other, there's a problem with the argument.  It's just a really convenient shorthand technique to draw out the problem area (apparently in this case like throwing a match on a gasoline puddle).

Consider, too, that one (badly over simplified) atheistic position takes, say, the following form:

Key Features of X

P1) X is omniscient
P2) X is omnipotent
P3) X, and any X action, is necessarily good
P4) X is solely responsible for choosing to create the world in its current form


But then X has deliberately caused, and is continuing to allow, untold miserable suffering and evil.
(conveniently ignore interesting arguments about free will here)

But we know from P2 X could have achieved the same result without suffering and evil.

So X has knowingly (from P1) chosen to create evil where it was not necessary.

X, then, has undertaken evil acts.

But from P3, any X action is good.

So, the notion of X is logically incoherent.

So, X does not exist.


Please not that my point is not that this brief argument proves atheism, but rather that a rational person of good will could hold such a positionin ood faith (sorry, couldn't resist) without excessive arrogance, nor indeed unfounded faith beyond underastanding how such discourse is performed.

Does explication this help or hinder?

Mongo
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Yikes, I don't know how all the garbles got in there, but I swear, I really am a native speaker of English.

Note to self: compose messages in Word, not in Joel's tiny text box.

Mongo
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Stephen,

I entirely agree with you on this one, and so does Descartes, as I suspect you well know.

OTOH, many people including Descartes (and me, for that matter), believe the first person proposition "I Exist" does have the special epistemological characteristic that it's a self affirming proposition when uttered, and thus not in need of proof.

Mongo
Thursday, December 11, 2003

"This is one reason I happen to think the scientific method is a great way of imposing an objective process on inherently subjective judgments:"

Unfortunately that rather misses the point :)

The 'scientific' method is fine so long as the two disagreeing have a few basic assumptions in common, and are able to interpret the same facts in the same way.

One example of this is if you and I were two people investigating the reason that water boils more quickly at higher altitudes.

We could quite easily agree that it _does_ boil more quickly...we have the correct assumptions in common and can both carry out the same experiment and agree on the results.

But, if I come from a background in some esoteric religion, and you come from a background of no religion at all (and no scientific knowledge) then we are very unlikely to have _any_ assumptions in common when it comes to working out _why_ this occurs.
Ill assume its because the water is closer to god, you'll assume its because the type of wood we have available in he mountains  burns hotter and there is _no_ room for a common interpretation (this is a particularly nice example because both explanations are wrong....).

The bottomline is that the 'scientific' method works fine if you believe in the scientific method, and have sufficient assumptions in common, and not at all otherwise :)

FullNameRequired
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Fullname,

Ahh, but you're missing a step in the scientific method. First, you observe:

Water boils faster at higher altitudes.

Then, you hypothesise:

It does this because of the wood in the mountains, or
it does this because it's closer to <deity>.

The third step is to TEST your hypothesis.

This is what makes some explanations scientific and some not. Scientific theories are falsifiable - you can test them. The wood explanation is better here because I can easily take some of the wood from the mountains, cart it to the bottom, then light a fire again and see what happens.

Chris Tavares
Thursday, December 11, 2003

"Ahh, but you're missing a step in the scientific method"

<g> that was entirely because I couldn't be bothered writing _quite_ that much in the post.

"The third step is to TEST your hypothesis."

but here _you_ are missing the point in much the same way.

This was _not_ intended as an attack on the scientific method, Im very much in favour of it and AFAICT despite its flaws is the best chance we have to work out wtf the universe is doing.

The point is that the scientific method is _only_ useful in terms of ending disagreements if the participants believe in it, and share some basic assumptions that mean that they can both draw the same conclusions from the same apparent facts.
(Thats assuming they can even agree on which questions are actually relevant :)

Basically the scientific method was put forward in an earlier post as being the solution to the fact that people tend to slice reality first, and then interpret the facts based on how it was sliced.
My point is that the scientific method is only useful once you have sliced the facts in a certain way :)

FullNameRequired
Thursday, December 11, 2003

>>> Ie, for most (all?) people the decision to believe or disbelieve in god is made first, and all the 'facts' are interpreted from that point.<<<

That might be overstating the situation.  Nevertheless, this thread does remind me of a talk radio program I heard many years ago.  There were two guests on the show, an atheist and a theologian.  There was some reasonably polite back and forth discussion about what each believed and why.

After listening to the two speakers for a time I came to the realization that, as far as I could tell, their basic beliefs were essentially the same.  They just wanted to put different labels on it.


The problem that I see with this kind of religious discussion is that some people seemed awfully concerned about whether or not other people believe in god, but they don't seem anywhere near as concerned with making it clear as to what they mean by the term.

mackinac
Thursday, December 11, 2003

Bored Said: "I would therefore go so far as to say that the atheist *has* a personal religion. He believes that God is non-existent, which is unprovable."


Bored:

With respect to your Atheism = Religion post, the problem with this oft heard claim is that your use of the word “religion” is idiosyncratic, at best. 

If you’re defining religion to mean holding any belief regarding nonprovable propositions, then maybe. But of course, we don’t normally think of religion or religious belief that way – at the least, we’d expect some supernatural or spiritual element, for example.

Mongo
Thursday, December 11, 2003

religion is wrong, but dope, because when was the last time you heard a pro athlete, gospel singer, or tight artist say "i thank darwin for having the proper genes for making me succeed." never. mythology is good, because it keeps people moving.

traveler
Thursday, December 11, 2003

There's no more reason he should thank Darwin for the proper genes than, were he a Christian, he should thank Gutenberg for printing the Bible.

Stephen Jones
Friday, December 12, 2003

"How did you come to believe in your specific god(s), whatever he/she/it/they may be?"

I question everything that doesn't add up to me.  My parents were Christians, but I knew that wasn't a good reason to be one given the very costly demands that being one would place on my life.  In high school I went searching.  The historical and philosophical evidence I found for the Judeo-Christian god and the works of Jesus where compelling to me.

So, in short, I don't see compelling evidence for the alternatives.  While obviously I didn't examine every religion, I attempted to examine every classification, and also every religion within the monotheistic classification.

This has been a lifelong question for me.  There are occasions when I doubt even now.  New objections regularly come up when I read different writings and in forums like this.  If they strike me as having possible merit then I think about them and weigh them against previous research.  In the end it is a personal decision we each make about what we believe, and I don't claim that the evidence that I find compelling should be so to others!

Scot Doyle
Friday, December 12, 2003

Here are a few points I find interesting to ponder:

1) Q: what's the difference between mythology and religion?
    A:  based on my observations of how people seem to treat the two terms, the working definitions most folks seem to operate with are that "mythology" is what "those 'primitive' <fill in somebody else's culture/group here> people believe(d)", while "religion" is what "<fill in speaker's own culture/group here> believes".

It's key, of course, in understanding the significance of this to keep in mind that as applied, the people involved implicitly seem to associate the values of "true" to "religion" and "false" to "mythology".

2) Why are so few people who profess some sort of "religious belief" apparently unable to make a distinction between membership in a specific organization and obeying the published dictates of that organization's power structure, versus simply adhering to a particular set of concepts for how the universe came into existence, why things are as they are, what, if anything, is driving the universe, etc.

Put more simply, it really bugs me how few people seem unable to draw the distinction between "organized religion" and a system of beliefs. My assessment of the worth and capability of an individual always diminishes when I discover that they are unable to see the remarkable separation between the two.

Of course, it's good for organized religion that such is the case, in fact it's an important requirement for organized religion to maintain their power that their "membership" be unable to make such a distinction. Some posters earlier mentioned the idea of arrogance. Hmm....how's establishing the concept of speaking 'deus ex cathedra' grab you for arrogance?  Oh, and I'm not specifically singling out the catholic church by using this latin phrase--though the phrase arose out of the catholic church, the idea behind 'deus ex cathedra' seems to be practiced by many ostensibly religious organizations that are not catholic.

would rather think-decide-act than hear-obey
Friday, December 12, 2003

I'd rather think-act-obey as well.  Luke encouraged this behavior when he wrote Acts 17.11, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

Scot Doyle
Friday, December 12, 2003

Scott - not to put too fine a point on things, but to be clear, did you mean to say "think-act-obey" in your response?

would rather think-decide-act than hear-obey
Friday, December 12, 2003

ya, good point :-)  at least think was first...

Scot Doyle
Friday, December 12, 2003

"But then X has deliberately caused, and is continuing to allow, untold miserable suffering and evil.
(conveniently ignore interesting arguments about free will here)"

The first assertion is that X caused suffering and evil.  While it is convenient to ignore the question of free will, free will is essential to explaining how evil could come to be.  The argument later asserts “X, then, has undertaken evil acts.”  I would therefore submit the argument cannot ignore the question of free will and remain valid.

The second assertion is that X allows suffering and evil to continue.  If the initial act of evil was allowed then isn't it consistent to allow the subsequent acts?  So this then is the same argument, with the same rebuttals.

However, if the argument is really that suffering and evil are allowed against those who are innocent, i.e. those who did not commit the original act, then the rebuttal is that X did what X could do and still remain true to X's own principals :-)  Namely, that X suffered from that evil himself, and made a way out  of the evil and suffering for those who would choose it.  (Assuming that X is the father of Jesus.)

Scot Doyle
Friday, December 12, 2003

Scot,

"Please note that my point is not that this brief argument proves atheism, but rather that a rational person of good will could hold such a position in good faith"

I had hoped that my disclaimer and the "conveniently ignore free will" aside would have prevented anyone from trying to take issue with this oversimplified argument.

Apparently I was mistaken.

Mongo
Friday, December 12, 2003

sorry all, I may have missed it, but just exactly how does this thread relate to software development again?

anonQAguy
Friday, December 12, 2003

Mongo, looking back I shouldn't have made this argument as indeed it wasn't your point.  I apologize.

Scot Doyle
Friday, December 12, 2003

Anyone who has put their comments onto this page, and thinks there is no God, or that a human such as Bill Gates is God, then well you really need to find a church and seek for our God Almightly. Because their is only one God and you need to watch what you say because when it comes to be judgement day, its only you and Jesus face to face, and he remembers everything you say. God please Bless you all and open your eyes.

Kristin Codi Weisbeck
Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The true fact about all these suppositions, (whether there is a god or not), is that there is not one person on the face of this earth who can know for sure  To believe in god is called faith.  To not believe in god is called atheism.  In my opinion, both of these beliefs are close minded because neither of them can be proved.  People should be more open minded and that could be good for human kind.  Strong ideologies have been the cause of most of the human suffering in our world.

Roger Scobey
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Oh well, if one were *truly* scientific then one would be open minded about issues of religion. In other words, who the blazes are you to say that billions of people are wrong to have a faith, or belief in a higher power? If one were truly religious one would have kindess to one's fellow man. In all religions there are variations of 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. I assert that true religion is based in security of one's own theology, yet embracing of the differences of belief in one's fellow man. Again, who the blazes am i to say that billions who do not share my particular denomination/religion are wrong?

Now, God. If it/he/she were truly existant, and a universal truth, then it would not matter whether I was religious or not, God would simply exist. Simple as that. Personally, i look around at the world to get a bigger picture. Why are all these people of various religions worshipping god and gods? I would truly be a poor and ignorant fool if I did not at least tolerate and allow their own views of the Universe, if they are gaining some kind of peace and satisfaction, and bettering their lives and the lives of others, whether they be religious or non-religious.

Sincere Fool
Wednesday, June 02, 2004

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