FIREFLY EPISODE DISCUSSIONS

Is Mal really an atheist?

POSTED BY: ESTHER
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 14:36
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Friday, August 4, 2006 8:08 AM

ESTHER


Well, maybe you had discussed this question before (sorry, I'm fairly new), but the archive is not working ...

Mal claims to be an atheist, but I wonder, whether he really is.

An atheist does not believe, that God exists. But sometimes, I have the feeling, that's not Mals position.

It is hard to go from believing to utter atheism. If someone is grown up with the notion, that "someone is out there", it can become just such a basic part of you personality, that it's almost impossible to loose.

I rather have the feeling, that Mal does not question the existence of God, but that he is angry / disappointed about him. So in this sense, he is more an "Anti-theist".

Remember him saying: "You are welcome on my boat - God isn't." ?

He doesn't want to worship (or put trust) in a god, that had disappointed him before. That doesn't necessarily mean, that he denies his existence.

In one of the fanfics here, I read a passage, where Inara is badly hurt, almost dead, and Mal sitting beside her is praying "although he would have never admitted it even to himself". I could really imagine that. However, that would not be the way of an atheist, but of a disapointed believer.

So what are your thoughts?
Esther



My lessons learned from Firefly (no. 16):
One of the virtues of not being puritanical about sex is not being embarrassed afterwards. (buuuhuuuuhuuuuuuuu!)


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Friday, August 4, 2006 8:12 AM

TRISTAN


I don't think he is an atheist; I think he chooses not to be a follower. A hostile non-follower, but I think he does believe. He did at one time have faith (see the pilot episode), but circumstances piled against him causing him to turn his back on god. I know that's kind of a simplistic explanation, but it's the easiest I can come up with. Hope my two cents' helps a bit.

______________________________________

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Friday, August 4, 2006 8:15 AM

FUTUREMRSFILLION


I agree with Tristan. Mal believes. But he believes that God can't be counted on. And he is hostile, because God deserted them in Serenity Valley.





one of the Forsaken TM

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Friday, August 4, 2006 8:44 AM

CHRONICTHEHEDGEHOG


I think he's lost his faith in God, not his belief in his existence.

-------------------------------------------------

Read my fanfic!
http://www.fireflyfans.net/sunroomitem.asp?i=8267

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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:10 AM

SILENCE


Like everyone else said. Mal belives in god, and he hates him!

**************************
"Listen, if you got guests I can come back later."

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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:14 AM

THERIGHTSTUFF1


Mal believes in God thanks to the Operative who showed him what to believe in the way we all should believe in President Bush.

TheRightStuff1

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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:18 AM

YINYANG

You were busy trying to get yourself lit on fire. It happens.


Ditto, ditto, and ditto.

---

Forgive me, for I am new.

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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:30 AM

ODDSBODSKINS


interesting question, but, i reckon that people who've gone before have hit the nail on the head. he's not an atheist, he believe's there's something out there right enough, he just can't find it in himself to believe it's benevolent, kind or on his side. he turned his back on it because he feels it turned it's back on him. which is a bit egocentric, you know, 'i believe, but whatever is up there doesn't think the same way i do, so it must be wrong' in the same way as you don't see true believer's doubting the existence of (a) god when things have gone their way and they don't feel they deserved it


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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:37 AM

YINYANG

You were busy trying to get yourself lit on fire. It happens.


Oh, and there's the thing he says in the original first scene (deleted and replaced with more action):

Zoe: Thank God (because the med ships are coming, and they're getting out).

Mal: God? Whose colors he flying?

---

Forgive me, for I am new.

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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:38 AM

RIVER6213


"Thank God? Whose colors he's flying?"

This was said by Mal after the battle of Serenity Valley. Mal believes in God but no longer believes that god has his best interest in mind. Mal believes that god can't be trusted, and does not feel safe putting his trust in him.

River

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Friday, August 4, 2006 9:48 AM

J6NGO1977


I've never actually seen him draw but it looks like he can handle a paintbrush and use oil colours pretty well ;)

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Friday, August 4, 2006 10:02 AM

STILLSHINY


If I recall didn't Joss answer this in a commentary once? I think the statement was that Mal was a man who had lost his faith.

A true atheist is one who doesn't believe in God and therefore has no reason to be upset or hurt by him.

I think most people who claim to be atheists are just firm believers in giving God the silent treatment, and treating him with distain by "claiming he doesn't exist"



"We had ties that could not be broken, except by the passing of time. Like a rock. A broken time rock. And you're very special to me, my broken time rock people." - Nathan Fillion

Stillshiny's Shop - Original creator of the -isms series
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Friday, August 4, 2006 10:14 AM

ODDSBODSKINS


see i'm sorry if i'm about to be offensive stillshiny, but i consider that point of view pretty narrow minded, i'm an atheist, i'm not giving god any silent treatment, i believe, heart and soul, there is no such thing to refuse to talk to in the first place. i acknowledge that this is as much a position of belief as believing that there IS such a thing, but it is what i feel, and, as a great many people who DO believe say, i feel i know this in my heart and in my soul, that there is no such thing. i simply cannot get my head around the possibility.

for all this, i recognise that an awful lot of people disagree with me, and so far as i'm concerned that's their prerogative, if they want to believe, they can, i won't stop them, indeed, who am i to say they're wrong. i believe heart and soul, i feel i know in every fibre of my being there is no such thing, they say they feel the opposite, one of us is wrong.

but to say that 'most atheist's are giving god the silent treatment' as if they believe, but don't want to admit it for whatever reason, whether they're annoyed at the concept or whatever the case may be, they're position of belief is every bit as real as any other.

edit: and yet, i can't get away from using the word soul, there really is no other word i can find in the english language to represent what i mean there...so much of the way we intereact is based on religious belief's, when they take up such a small part of our daily lives, twisted


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Friday, August 4, 2006 10:27 AM

STILLSHINY


Actually no offense is taken. And I absolutely respect your "belief". Please note specifically what I said, which you demonstrate perfectly. You are what I would refer to as a TRUE atheist.

A TRUE atheist is one who doesn't believe in God and therefore has no reason to be upset or hurt by him.

Now, note my continuing statements, which is where I think Mal falls in.

I think MOST people who CLAIM to be atheists are just firm believers in giving God the silent treatment, and treating him with distain by "claiming he doesn't exist"I should finish that statement by saying. They do this becuase the feel that God has "let them down"

Interesting topic, not trying to hijack.








"We had ties that could not be broken, except by the passing of time. Like a rock. A broken time rock. And you're very special to me, my broken time rock people." - Nathan Fillion

Stillshiny's Shop - Original creator of the -isms series
http://www.spreadshirt.com/shop.php?sid=4728

http://www.myspace.com/robdhiii





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Friday, August 4, 2006 10:33 AM

THEKNIGHT


I am not sure where I heard this, but I once heard it said that it is hard to be angry at something that you don't think exists. I thinks this sums up the situation quite nicely.

1:40 AM after a fraternity party is not a good time to make a signature.

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Friday, August 4, 2006 10:38 AM

ODDSBODSKINS


this is true stillshiny, and apologies for the misunderstanding, guess i should've been less jumpy then to take most as all

yes i agree, mal is not someone who has ceased to believe, but rather someone who is in a bit of a cream puff with what he believe's in.


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Friday, August 4, 2006 10:51 AM

STILLSHINY


Quote:

Originally posted by Oddsbodskins:
this is true stillshiny, and apologies for the misunderstanding, guess i should've been less jumpy then to take most as all

yes i agree, mal is not someone who has ceased to believe, but rather someone who is in a bit of a cream puff with what he believe's in.





This is a prime example of why Browncoats are the coolest folk in the Verse. I've enjoyed this exchange & it's nice to make your aquaintence.

I think I heard Joss once say he has a "true" atheist, but he was fascinated by the concept of faith & belief & redemption.

"We had ties that could not be broken, except by the passing of time. Like a rock. A broken time rock. And you're very special to me, my broken time rock people." - Nathan Fillion

Stillshiny's Shop - Original creator of the -isms series
http://www.spreadshirt.com/shop.php?sid=4728

http://www.myspace.com/robdhiii





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Friday, August 4, 2006 1:47 PM

ODDSBODSKINS


yeah you know, it's a problem, religions get all the best damn imagery >.< i mean, beyond chaos theory, what can you claim as an atheist...and even that's a bit dubious and belief dependant...don't even get any good blasphemy >.<


sorry maybe he meant something other by being fascinated with the concept but it's interesting, well, for me anyway, because it's so very alien as a way to look at the world, i can well understand why joss makes such a theme of it in his work if he is an atheist ^^


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Sunday, August 6, 2006 12:46 PM

SHINYFIREFLYK64


I think agnostic would be a more appropriate word to describe Mal. He seems to acknowledge, or at the very least, conceeds to others, that God exists, because he used to feel very strongly about the God's role in the 'verse, but, because of what happened at Serenity Valley, Mal is now reluctant to give God a prominet position in his life. That is why I think Mal tells Book that "God ain't" welcome on Serenity.

"Nothing in the 'verse can stop me!"
~~~Kaylee

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 1:55 PM

WHIMSICALNBRAINPAN


Mal's not an atheist, he's just lost his faith. If you remember at the begining of the pilot Serenity he kisses a crucifix he's wearing before he runs out to shoot the ship down. The look on his face when he's been ordered to surrender and looks out on the valley is the look of a man who's lost everything he believes in.

"Well, here I am." http://whimsicalnbrainpan.blogspot.com/

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 2:16 PM

GREENFAERIE


I think the main problem with atheists is the definition of what "God" is. Seems to me that most atheists think that God is some sort of old man in robes with a big throne in the sky. Well, I don't believe in that, so does that make me an atheist? No. I think God is beyond our comprehension.

I don't think Mal is an atheist, I just think he does not trust in God. So what is God? That depends on your beliefs. In my own world, God is beyond our understanding. God is not male or female, nor is God omnipotent or ignorant. The universe is beyond our understanding and such is God.

Anyone who is an atheist is ignorant and self-centered. How can anyone claim there is no such thing as a power that is beyond their own understanding?



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Sunday, August 6, 2006 2:28 PM

WELLIMIGHT


I think it's not that he is hostile, or distrusts God. But he lost so much of the hope/innocence at Serenity that God went with it. He is impartial, much like he is to the alliance. He harbors no dislike or anything, it didn't work for him and he has moved on. He is different now.

"None of us will survive"

"Well, I might!"

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 2:55 PM

FREDGIBLET


Quote:

Originally posted by GreenFaerie:
I think the main problem with atheists is the definition of what "God" is. Seems to me that most atheists think that God is some sort of old man in robes with a big throne in the sky.



Actually I (a strong agnostic\apatheist (look it up on wikipedia)), do not believe that a god exists. All of my atheist friends do not believe that god exists, the form of the god is unimportant, the existance (or lack therof) is what is important.

You seem to be saying that atheists do not believe because their perception of the form of god is incorrect, is that true? If so then your entire perception of atheism is wrong, all the atheists that I know do not say "I don't believe in god because he is 'some sort of old man in robes with a big throne in the sky'" but rather "I don't believe in god because the proof is not conclusive", or "I don't believe in god because no god would allow a world like this to exist" or something along that lines.

Quote:

Anyone who is an atheist is ignorant and self-centered. How can anyone claim there is no such thing as a power that is beyond their own understanding?


Ignorant? strange thing to call me, I am better read than most people my age (and many people a lot older), I know more about more things than most of the people I know. Most of the atheists that I know are more well-read in science, philosophy, and similar things than the theists that I know. In my experience a theist calling a atheist ignorant is often quite simliar to a pot talking to a kettle.

Self-centered? Perhaps, but the question is this: is it cause or effect? you seen to be implying that they are atheists because they are self-centered, when in fact the reverse is more often true in my experience. This is not really a flaw either but a logical consequence, if I don't spend my time deferring my thoughts to an invisible man, then I will spend more time thinking about myself. While the result may not be optimal, I don't see it as a flaw either, being self-centered allows me to do what is best, instead of what an ancient book says is best.

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 3:28 PM

DAVIDHALO2



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Sunday, August 6, 2006 3:28 PM

DAVIDHALO2


I think Mal is more on the lines of being agnostic...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:33 PM

MUDDERSMILK


Whether Mal is technically an athesit, an agnostic, or just mad at God is not strictly important to the story (IMHO). Just like one of the posts above said, when (in Serenity TP) the order to surrender comes, and Mal looks out as the Independents ships are abandoning him, he looses all faith. In everything. In governments, people, God. All he can do is have faith in his crew. God is not welcome on his boat because God abadoned him in Serenity Valley. Zoe, Kaylee, Jayne, and Wash are welcome on his boat because they are his people, his crew. That is what he has faith in. This message comes back again and again. Thats why he's so mad at Jayne's betrayal in Ariel. Thats why he goes back for the Tams in Safe. Thats why Inara says she has to leave in HOG... Mal's faith in the crew binds them to him, and she feels she must break those binds before it ties her to the ship for good.

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 8:32 PM

STAKETHELURK


Muddersmilk makes some good points about where Mal’s faith and trust lie now.

As for whether Mal is an atheist or angry at God, I think the evidence is mixed, but I think both are plausible. I tend to think he’s an atheist myself.

And for those who say it’s difficult to be angry at someone or something that doesn’t exist, I have to say that’s not so. Have you ever been angry at a character in a piece of fiction? They don’t exist and you know they don’t exist, and yet you’re angry at them.

Then there’s the way some people respond to the loss of a loved one--they’re angry at them for dying. The deceased no longer exists in this world (and if you don’t believe in an afterlife, no longer exists at all), yet they’re still angry at them. Indeed, some atheists can get very angry at God for not existing! It’s a frustrated, futile anger (much like anger a fictitious character), but it doesn’t necessarily imply that they have any underlying belief in God.

That is kind of how I could see Mal’s angry statements about God. That comment about “Who’s colors he flying?” doesn’t necessarily mean Mal feels that God sided with the Alliance or didn’t intervene--it could mean that God isn’t flying any colors because he isn’t there. And Mal is angry that he was stupid enough to believe in a benevolent guiding hand to make things right when clearly such a hand doesn’t exist. So in the end, Mal may actually be very angry at himself for buying into the “false promises” of religion, which he externalizes as anger at God (note how statements such as “You’re welcome on my boat--God ain’t” serve to push away any religious sentiment, so it won’t be there to “trick” him again). Again, this does not necessarily mean that he believes in God, but the figure serves as a good catch-all for his self-resentment. Since he sees the concept of God as a (at best useless) delusion, I think he has good reason to be angry (good reason in terms of motivation). Doesn’t mean he still believes God is out there (though again, I admit, his statements can often be interpreted differently).

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Sunday, August 6, 2006 10:53 PM

ODDSBODSKINS


Quote:

Originally posted by GreenFaerie:
I think the main problem with atheists is the definition of what "God" is. Seems to me that most atheists think that God is some sort of old man in robes with a big throne in the sky. Well, I don't believe in that, so does that make me an atheist? No. I think God is beyond our comprehension.

...

Anyone who is an atheist is ignorant and self-centered. How can anyone claim there is no such thing as a power that is beyond their own understanding?






okay, so i skipped the part of your post pertaining to the actual topic, i'd say sue me, but it might prove difficult to press charges against someone's online handle. I, as i have stated, am an Atheist, however i do not, as you suggest, deny the possibility of anything beyond my comprehension, i simply do not believe it is the case. I'm fallible, i can, in point of fact, be wrong, i believe with my all that there's nothing out there, no guiding hand, no creative force, nothing divine, or supernatural, or spiritual (although i do love my ghost stories, i have quite a repertoire of them now) but i admit the possibility that i'm wrong, and there is something beyond my comprehension.

as regards the charge of being self-centred, well, along the same lines as what fredgiblet said, without higher authority i'm accountable to myself and myself alone. my actions are defined by my conscience, my world view starts with what i can see, feel and touch (although the evidence of my eyes is interpreted by my brain, and that can't be trusted, everything with a pinch of salt adds spice to life ). Maybe it's self-centred, but i don't know that's always a bad thing, i think if it was intrinsically selfish perhaps that wouldn't be to anyone's benefit, but i can't see much of a compelling argument for the (typical) atheist world view being intrinsically selfish.


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Monday, August 7, 2006 2:44 AM

ESTHER


Quote:

Anyone who is an atheist is ignorant and self-centered. How can anyone claim there is no such thing as a power that is beyond their own understanding?


@ GREENFAERY

Being the "creator" of the thread, I would prefer statements here being less "absolute", if it comes to judging others.

I perceive myself as a christian, however, I know many atheists, who are socially, politically and personally very committed and involved (along the Angel-quote: if nothing, what you do, matters, all that matters is what you do). In many cases, atheists are very intellectual, because they had a need to defend their views against family and friends (similar to christians, growing up in a non-believing environment).

By the way, this is why I perceive Mal not as an atheist, because he is not intellectual about it - he never discusses the subject. He is just very badly hurt.

And Atheists do not claim that there is no such thing as a power that is beyond their own understanding. By example, they believe in the existence of nuklear energy, laws of nature etc.. What they (in my perception) don't believe, is, that such a power is in any way intelligent, capable of feeling, planning etc, short, that it is a "personality" in the broadest sense (which is, on the other hand, the very foundation of the Jewish/Christian view on God).

In my experience, self-centerd and ingnorant people are in most cases the ones, who "took" a believe or an (atheistic) view on the world from their peergoup/family, because it was convenient, but never had the need to defend or define it for themselfs. Such people, who were never confronted with doubts or suppressed them at an early stage because of the fear, they might loose their "believe", if they did.

Quote:

And for those who say it’s difficult to be angry at someone or something that doesn’t exist, I have to say that’s not so. Have you ever been angry at a character in a piece of fiction? They don’t exist and you know they don’t exist, and yet you’re angry at them.


@ STAKETHELURK

Well, for me that is more a "virtual" kind of anger. If I'm really angry, I'm angry at the reality behind the fiction (i.e. the writer). Atheists I know are not angry at god (no point, if there is no god), but rather angry at themselfs (as you said) or against the church (as an organisation taking advantage of the stupidity of men, thus bringing suffering over others just for its own good/power). But Mal is not angry against the church (otherwise, he probably would not accept Book the way he does), and he seems not being angry at himslef (at least I see no evidence in the series) but against God!

Esther



My lessons learned from Firefly (no. 11):
A ruthless bounty-hunter can still be a philosopher (That seem right to you?)

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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:58 AM

ESTHER


Quote:

Zoe, Kaylee, Jayne, and Wash are welcome on his boat because they are his people, his crew. That is what he has faith in. This message comes back again and again. Thats why he's so mad at Jayne's betrayal in Ariel. Thats why he goes back for the Tams in Safe.


Hmmm, I wouldn't use the word faith in this sense. Religius faith (theme of this thread), is to acknowledge, that my own knowlege, power, morality etc. is not suficient to go the way I would like to go. It is to accept, that I need someone else (God) to teach me, hold me, forgive me and sometimes to carry me.

Now I think, that Mal would never ask his crew, to carry him. On the contrary, he feels obliged to carry them. It is out of the question, that they are willing and sometimes do carry him (and then he is rather thankful), but he would never ask for it. He demands of himself to do it all by himself, to be responsible for himself and for the crew on top of that. He knows, that he needs them in a sense, but he would never admit it, less even ask for it. Oh, and you know, that he expects Jayne to turn on him, some day, but he still feels responsible.

He sends them all away in OOG, but requires from himself, to stay. Inara tries to tell him, that he does not need to be alone, that he can have "faith" in his crew, but he does not allow himself, to have it. "Everybody dies alone". The sad part about this is, that Mal also lives alone, be cause he feels, that there is no-one, he can have "faith" in. He has to do it all by himself. He is responsible for them, not the other way around.

It's so good, that in OOG at the end, it's not him, who saved the crew, but the crew, who saved him. So that might have been a first step towards "having faith in his crew", but still a long way to go. He is thankfull, but still demands from himself to carry them, not the other way around (ZOE: It'll never happen again, sir. MAL: Good. And thank you. I'm grateful.)

Esther




My lessons learned from Firefly (no. 12):
If you're floating in space all alone, your chances are one in about... a very big number. (well… here I am)

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Monday, August 7, 2006 2:10 PM

GREENFAERIE


Quote:

By the way, this is why I perceive Mal not as an atheist, because he is not intellectual about it - he never discusses the subject. He is just very badly hurt.


I agree. Mal is not an Atheist, he just hates God.

Quote:


And Atheists do not claim that there is no such thing as a power that is beyond their own understanding. By example, they believe in the existence of nuklear energy, laws of nature etc.. What they (in my perception) don't believe, is, that such a power is in any way intelligent, capable of feeling, planning etc, short, that it is a "personality" in the broadest sense (which is, on the other hand, the very foundation of the Jewish/Christian view on God).



Huh? By my own understanding, God is beyond my understanding. He/She/It is not something I can relate to except on a spiritual level. I cannot claim that God has a personality, as that is a human trait. God is the universe itself, and that is something I can only begin to understand.



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Monday, August 7, 2006 2:36 PM

GREENFAERIE


Quote:

I believe with my all that there's nothing out there, no guiding hand, no creative force, nothing divine, or supernatural, or spiritual (although i do love my ghost stories, i have quite a repertoire of them now) but i admit the possibility that i'm wrong, and there is something beyond my comprehension.


Uh, then you are not an atheist. By definition, you are agnostic.

Quote:

as regards the charge of being self-centred, well, along the same lines as what fredgiblet said, without higher authority i'm accountable to myself and myself alone. my actions are defined by my conscience, my world view starts with what i can see, feel and touch (although the evidence of my eyes is interpreted by my brain, and that can't be trusted, everything with a pinch of salt adds spice to life ). Maybe it's self-centred, but i don't know that's always a bad thing, i think if it was intrinsically selfish perhaps that wouldn't be to anyone's benefit, but i can't see much of a compelling argument for the (typical) atheist world view being intrinsically selfish.


That's a matter of semantics. All of us are self-centered at birth. I argue that as we grow to know the universe, we realize that we are not the center of the universe. And therefore, we cannot claim that there is no such thing as God, which is a force beyond ourselves and beyond our understanding.


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Monday, August 7, 2006 2:45 PM

GREENFAERIE


Quote:

You seem to be saying that atheists do not believe because their perception of the form of god is incorrect, is that true? If so then your entire perception of atheism is wrong, all the atheists that I know do not say "I don't believe in god because he is 'some sort of old man in robes with a big throne in the sky'" but rather "I don't believe in god because the proof is not conclusive", or "I don't believe in god because no god would allow a world like this to exist" or something along that lines.



That's just silly. Can you prove that you love your mother? Can you understand what Free Will means? Some things cannot be proven.

Quote:


Ignorant? strange thing to call me, I am better read than most people my age (and many people a lot older), I know more about more things than most of the people I know. Most of the atheists that I know are more well-read in science, philosophy, and similar things than the theists that I know. In my experience a theist calling a atheist ignorant is often quite simliar to a pot talking to a kettle.



All of us are ignorant. None of us know everything. Atheists assume they know enough to call God non-existant. That is the height of ignorance, to assume you know all there is to know. To say there is no God is to say you know the universe and all that it means. That is the height of arrogance.



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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:05 PM

ODDSBODSKINS



Quote:

Uh, then you are not an atheist. By definition, you are agnostic.


i beg to difer, admitting the possibility that i'm wrong does not mean i'm uncertain as to what i believe ^^ it's along the same lines as 'well, i believe heart and soul there are NOT invisible pink elephants flying about the stratosphere, but at the end of the day i can't prove it' just because i believe something, and happen to hold the opinion that i'm right, doesn't mean i neccessarily am, i've been wrong before, could be wrong again, just don't happen to think i will be ^^

Quote:

That's a matter of semantics. All of us are self-centered at birth. I argue that as we grow to know the universe, we realize that we are not the center of the universe. And therefore, we cannot claim that there is no such thing as God, which is a force beyond ourselves and beyond our understanding.


i'm not sure i agree with the connection between not being the centre of the universe and there being a god. i mean we blatantly don't sit at the ventre of the universe, we don't even sit at the centre of the galaxy, don't even live in the centre of the earth! but i don't see it as compelling evidence for a higher power.
hehe, okay, sorry, that was facetious, i couldn't resist, but i'm really not sure i understand the connection you're drawing here, could you try and clarify it a little?




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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:20 PM

FREDGIBLET


Quote:

Originally posted by GreenFaerie:
Quote:

You seem to be saying that atheists do not believe because their perception of the form of god is incorrect, is that true? If so then your entire perception of atheism is wrong, all the atheists that I know do not say "I don't believe in god because he is 'some sort of old man in robes with a big throne in the sky'" but rather "I don't believe in god because the proof is not conclusive", or "I don't believe in god because no god would allow a world like this to exist" or something along that lines.



That's just silly. Can you prove that you love your mother? Can you understand what Free Will means? Some things cannot be proven.



And I will chose to believe in the things that can. I think it is interesting that when theists are confronted with the paradox of an omnipotent being who doesn't like the way his world is going (and doesn't change it) that they fall back on free will. What good is free will if god punishes you for exercising it?

Quote:


All of us are ignorant. None of us know everything. Atheists assume they know enough to call God non-existant. That is the height of ignorance, to assume you know all there is to know. To say there is no God is to say you know the universe and all that it means. That is the height of arrogance.



I know enough to say that I cannot in good consience profess belief in any religious system created by man (and they are all created by man). None of my atheist friends believe that we know everything, I know that there are many things that I do not know. To judge someone because of their lack of interest in taking part in your personal delusion is the height of arrogance.

P.S. Sorry for the threadjack Esther but GreenFaerie started it.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:22 PM

GREENFAERIE


Quote:

i'm not sure i agree with the connection between not being the centre of the universe and there being a god. i mean we blatantly don't sit at the ventre of the universe, we don't even sit at the centre of the galaxy, don't even live in the centre of the earth! but i don't see it as compelling evidence for a higher power.
hehe, okay, sorry, that was facetious, i couldn't resist, but i'm really not sure i understand the connection you're drawing here, could you try and clarify it a little?



A little, yes. If I am not the center of the universe, what is? Something greater than myself, something I do not understand. I define that as God. That is where the crux of the problem is... what do you define as God?


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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:24 PM

RAI





i'm not sure i agree with the connection between not being the centre of the universe and there being a god. i mean we blatantly don't sit at the ventre of the universe, we don't even sit at the centre of the galaxy, don't even live in the centre of the earth!



First of all, I'm not quite sure how you can claim that we aren't in the center of the universe, unless you can tell me where exactly it ends? (Personally, I doubt it ends at all- what comes after? The ether? :)

I do believe that no one can say, "Well, I can't believe in God because I don't believe that He could allow something like this to happen." I think that the arrogance that we could understand where God is coming from and what He allows have to do with Him allowing us a) free will and b) a greater purpose in the end are what He has in store. But I also don't believe in looking down on anyone else for their beliefs (within reason, I don't believe that it's a good belief if you believe you should kill someone cause their hair color is green, or something like that). That's one thing I really like about this board, is that no one has gotten mean yet. I don't think that judging anyone else is something that is in our jurisdiction, and I've seen far too many people do that.

Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:38 PM

ODDSBODSKINS


Quote:

Originally posted by GreenFaerie:
A little, yes. If I am not the center of the universe, what is? Something greater than myself, something I do not understand. I define that as God. That is where the crux of the problem is... what do you define as God?





ahhh, right, i see, the differance of opinion then, would be in the assumption that the universe has a centre, beyond the actual, literal, centre. because i don't believe there neccessarily has to be one.

Quote:

Originally posted by Rai:
First of all, I'm not quite sure how you can claim that we aren't in the center of the universe, unless you can tell me where exactly it ends? (Personally, I doubt it ends at all- what comes after? The ether? :)



mostly through facetiousness, i claim most things when i'm taking the mickey.

Quote:

I do believe that no one can say, "Well, I can't believe in God because I don't believe that He could allow something like this to happen." I think that the arrogance that we could understand where God is coming from and what He allows have to do with Him allowing us a) free will and b) a greater purpose in the end are what He has in store. But I also don't believe in looking down on anyone else for their beliefs (within reason, I don't believe that it's a good belief if you believe you should kill someone cause their hair color is green, or something like that). That's one thing I really like about this board, is that no one has gotten mean yet. I don't think that judging anyone else is something that is in our jurisdiction, and I've seen far too many people do that.

Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.




weeerl, i dunno, i thought calling all atheist's supremely selfish bordered on mean, but being the forgiving sort i am i thought i'd take it as i thought it was meant and let it slide ^^
As regards stating that you don't believe in god because you can't believe a god would allow something to happen, well yes, there's no sense or reason to that, it's just a wee cream-puff of a tantrum. But then since i haven't heard anyone suggesting that to be the case, or the root of their belief's (except insofar as it may be the root of mal's, are we still sticking with that topic or are we letting it drift d'you reckon?) it seems to be a bit of an irrelevant thing to be bringing up, taken in the current context of the resident atheist's trying to defend/explain their belief's ^^


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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:52 PM

RAI


Maybe people have made some unkind statements. I should have clarified further in saying that none of them have been as ugly as I've seen people get- from both sides of the spectrum. Most people tend to get on the ugly and defensive side when they're talking about their beliefs, because it's such an integral part of who they are.

I was just pointing out that it's sad that we feel the need to insult each other's viewpoints to make ourselves feel better, and I find that more inexcusable from Christians like me, because that isn't what we should be doing.

But as to the original question, I do think that Mal is angry at God on a personal level- i.e., the derogatory comments about Him. Demons acknowlege God, are they on good terms with Him?

Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 3:58 PM

RAI


I was also wondering where Mal claims to be an athiest? Does he ever actually say that, or are we just left at, "You're welcome on my ship. God ain't."

Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:01 PM

FREDGIBLET


Quote:

Originally posted by Rai:
I don't believe that it's a good belief if you believe you should kill someone cause their hair color is green, or something like that



How about blue?

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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:04 PM

RAI


Well, maybe then.

Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:06 PM

FREDGIBLET


Quote:

Originally posted by Oddsbodskins:
As regards stating that you don't believe in god because you can't believe a god would allow something to happen, well yes, there's no sense or reason to that, it's just a wee cream-puff of a tantrum. But then since i haven't heard anyone suggesting that to be the case, or the root of their belief's (except insofar as it may be the root of mal's, are we still sticking with that topic or are we letting it drift d'you reckon?) it seems to be a bit of an irrelevant thing to be bringing up, taken in the current context of the resident atheist's trying to defend/explain their belief's ^^



That came from me, I was challenging greenfaeries assertion that people became atheists from their dislike of their image of god. While the idea of someone just stating something like "there is no god because no god could allow this" is not a particularly good arguement, the attitude could come about through hardship or senseless tragedy. Those are two often recurring reasons for a loss of faith.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:08 PM

FREDGIBLET


Quote:

Originally posted by Rai:
Well, maybe then.



Cool

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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:09 PM

ODDSBODSKINS


Quote:

Originally posted by fredgiblet:

That came from me, I was challenging greenfaeries assertion that people became atheists from their dislike of their image of god. While the idea of someone just stating something like "there is no god because no god could allow this" is not a particularly good arguement, the attitude could come about through hardship or senseless tragedy. Those are two often recurring reasons for a loss of faith.




oop, damn need to remember to reread things before i respond when i'm fallin' asleep, miss stuff otherwise


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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:14 PM

RAI


I do agree that that attitude could be brought about very easily- everyone struggles with that outlook. How could this happen to me? The way I personally get through it is by believing that there is nowhere does it say that life is gonna be easy. Of course, that has the opposite effect of making me nervous when things are going well. (Pessimistic? Me? Never...)

Yes, Jayne. She's a witch. She has had congress with the beast.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 4:36 PM

FREDGIBLET


Quote:

Originally posted by GreenFaerie:

That's a matter of semantics. All of us are self-centered at birth. I argue that as we grow to know the universe, we realize that we are not the center of the universe. And therefore, we cannot claim that there is no such thing as God, which is a force beyond ourselves and beyond our understanding.



Actually I can. I realize that I am not the center of the universe, in fact in my own pessimistic, depressed way I recognize that I am not only not the center, but in truth I am more or less utterly insignificant cosmically speaking. However that fact in no way compells me to believe in a god. There is no center of the universe, and there is no reason to believe that there should be one, so the fact that we are not it does not imply the presence of a supernatural being.

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Monday, August 7, 2006 7:50 PM

XITWOUND117


Quote:

Originally posted by Esther:
Mal claims to be an atheist, but I wonder, whether he really is.

An atheist does not believe, that God exists. But sometimes, I have the feeling, that's not Mals position.

It is hard to go from believing to utter atheism. If someone is grown up with the notion, that "someone is out there", it can become just such a basic part of you personality, that it's almost impossible to loose.

I rather have the feeling, that Mal does not question the existence of God, but that he is angry / disappointed about him. So in this sense, he is more an "Anti-theist".

Remember him saying: "You are welcome on my boat - God isn't." ?

He doesn't want to worship (or put trust) in a god, that had disappointed him before. That doesn't necessarily mean, that he denies his existence.

In one of the fanfics here, I read a passage, where Inara is badly hurt, almost dead, and Mal sitting beside her is praying "although he would have never admitted it even to himself". I could really imagine that. However, that would not be the way of an atheist, but of a disapointed believer.


I don't think Mal praying after the war is particularly believable.

But that aside, I think this thread hits pretty close to the mark. Mal is not quite an atheist and has never stated to be one. It seems like he allows for the possibility of god, and if so, he doesn't follow or call to that god. This is supported by his "god ain't" welcome on his boat thing. On the other hand, it does seems like he also allows for the possibility for there to be no god ("that's a long time waitin' for a ship don't come" (paraphrasing)). I think the loss of the war caused him to come to the conclusion that either god doesn't exist, or god doesn't care.

I think his belief is that he doesn't care if god exists, because he wouldn't follow god if it did exist.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2006 6:28 AM

INDIGOSTARBLASTER


I agree with the posters who've said that Mal is an angry believer, rather than an atheist. Among other things, if he were an atheist, he wouldn't object to Book saying grace aloud (in the pilot). That's indicative of someone angry with God, and trying to punish him. An atheist would just say, "Go ahead" and think privately that there is no point (and maybe fume a little at how the meal is getting cold).

To add my two cents to the side argument on this thread, as I understand it, neither the existence of God nor the non-existence of God can be proven. As such, I think most people start on one side of the argument or the other and find they cannot be convinced to change.

I'm an atheist myself, raised by non-religious parents (one atheist, one with vague beliefs in a non-structured "higher power") but with cultural exposure to both Buddhists and Christians while growing up. Neither set of precepts nor their origins are particularly convincing to me, so I've remained an atheist.

BTW, I'm afraid the argument that "God passeth understanding" isn't very convincing. I'm not denying the existence of things that I don't understand, but I'm not going to accept the existence of something just because I don't understand it, either.

Indigo S.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2006 6:46 AM

ESTHER


Quote:


Originally posted by GreenFaerie:

Huh? By my own understanding, God is beyond my understanding. He/She/It is not something I can relate to except on a spiritual level. I cannot claim that God has a personality, as that is a human trait. God is the universe itself, and that is something I can only begin to understand.




No too sure about that (regarding semantics). Saying "God has a personality" just means, that not only can I relate to him, but also he can relate to me.

The basic concept behind this is this: we percieve the things in the world to have more of a personality, the more "evolved" they are (Stone-Tree-Fly-Dog-Human). Now, assuming God exists, he would extend this row or even be outside of it, but certainly over it. Then he should have more "personality", than a human (I guess, this is what is behind the concept of Trinity), but not less.

Ot put in another way: If he is the universe, he must include the concept of personality, because it is a part of the universe. If not, he would be less than we are. I'm not saying, that God has a personality, like humans have, but if he exists, he would have as a "minimum" a personality, as humans have, but go beyond that.

If "it" would just be something like a "methaphysical law of nature", it would be less. This is somewhat in the line of Buddism (as I understand), and they don't percieve themselfs as "religion", but as "philosopy", and would never talk about a "God".

So obviously we cannot understand him (from our side - because he extends our understanding), but he can choose to "show" himself to us (because he includes our way of being). This is the concept of the three "Revelation-Religions": Judaism, Chritianity and Islam.

Boy, this is really hard to do in English, you know? But highly interesting!

Esther


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