Do you think Neil Finn believes in God?

stuartjb posted:

I know plenty people who I consider intellectual who have a very traditional view of who god is ....

I'm trying very hard not to say anymore about that statement, as I don't want to offend anyone..

Also don’t want to go too far off topic but examples abound ranging from Chesterton to Tolkien to Aquinas to Mendel. I’d like to think of myself as an intellectual although though that may be pushing it. 🙂

I also don't want to turn this into a discussion about whether brains and belief can go together. Of course they can. I just have the urge to sort three things out before this gets divisive.

- Believers can talk about facts and come up with intellectual ideas (> see examples given above and many more).

- Atheists and agnostics can talk about non-facts. They can use imagery and metaphors, they can use and allude to religious, spiritual and metaphysical concepts (> see examples given above; and many more; and Neil).

- The man has said himself that he is an atheist. More than once, plus quite a number of off-the-cuff remarks and sneery jokes. I don't think there is a point in saying he's lying because of some of his lyrics (see point 2). He's 59, with a strong history of not pretending.  

Why is it important if Neil believes in God? Well, we all feel happy or reassured when people we like display another trait we can identify with. And we might feel a bit disappointed when they reject something we feel strongly about. 

(I'm lucky with Neil - I'm distinctly unkeen on anything religious, I've got a whole shelf of Dawkins' books, as well as loud views on the environment and rescue animals and immigration and social policies etc. etc. But oh boy, that's certainly not the case with every artist or other person I've come to like or adore. How could it?)

Sugar Mouse posted:
stuartjb posted:
Paināporo posted:

I think Neil smokes enough pot to believe that the universe is full of greater powers, but he's also enough of an intellectual to know that traditional interpretations of a god are pretty unlikely.

I know plenty people who I consider intellectual who have a very traditional view of who god is ....

I'm trying very hard not to say anymore about that statement, as I don't want to offend anyone..

My take on Neil , (and I don't know him so its only speculation) is that from how he talks , and the lyrics in his songs would suggest to me that he is a guy who is most definetly asking questions and searching - as many of us do. maybe agnostic, but hard to believe he is actually an atheist. if he has said so in an interview, I can only take him at his word - but everything else about him to me suggests otherwise.

My best guess is that Neil doesn't believe in the traditional Judeo-Christian portrait of "God" (which Neil considers consistent with an "atheist" status) but does believe in an unknowable higher power spiritual force in the universe.  Just my guess based on his lyrics and what he's said in interviews. 

Have to say Sugar Mouse, that for me is the very description of someone who is agnostic  - not Atheist . This is why Neils' musings on the subject confuse me . In the lecture video , he said he didn't believe in god , but surrounded it by talk of unknown forces and wonder of the universe ...

For me someone who is atheist believes we are born then we die . The end . I respect that view but don't find it plausible. That's why I've never understood the point of books on the subject by Richard dawkins et al .

I think I'll bring out a book titled " I don't like Marzipan - and here's why ".

As Christians , we're supposed to spread the word . Not for ourselves but for our perceived betterment of others. Why does an atheist need to spread the word ? Whats in it for them ?

Someone earlierin the forum refered to having a musical hero and needing them to have the same beliefs as me (generalisation) ?!  Why would I or any other "believer" care either way ?!

I'm into Neils music whether hes atheist agnostic or whatever . I've heard him say he doesn't believe in god , but to reiterate on an earlier post , when I hear him talk about such things, he sounds like a guy who is questioning and searching - that's all !

 

I think I'll bring out a book titled " I don't like Marzipan - and here's why ".

As Christians , we're supposed to spread the word . Not for ourselves but for our perceived betterment of others. Why does an atheist need to spread the word ? Whats in it for them ?

 

That's an interesting question.

My guess would be that many non-religious people see, historically, more harm than good coming from religion. Humans are very fallible creatures and can be easily manipulated, frightened, angered, corrupted, and irrational. Telling these imperfect animals that the thing all life fears most: death - can be avoided by obeying YOUR interpretation of an ancient book - which is and has been interpreted wildly differently by a great many for centuries, can and has been a potent recipe for disaster.

I suppose these potential dangers, in their minds, outweigh the personal comfort of the those who find quiet solace and meaning in their religion. In the mind of the atheist, these people have found comfort in a fairy tale and are in denial of reality, which they consider psychologically unhealthy. 

Therefore, what the atheist has to gain by spreading the idea that religion is merely ancient man's attempt at understanding the natural world, which morphed into an attempt to control and manipulate the masses by offering to eliminate their greatest fears, which morphed into thousands of years (and counting) of people feeling justified in slaughtering one another over who's interpretation of religion is the correct one - could all simply be avoided by accepting science and where the reach of science ends, being okay with the idea of "I don't know" and enjoying and contemplating all the wonders and mysteries of life and the universe without being handed easy, convenient answers. 

That would be my guess as to what's in it for the atheist. Fewer Troubles in Ireland. Fewer 9/11's. Fewer Catholic priests mistreating young boys. Fewer dangerous rejections of scientific facts that might very well save all life on the planet. That kind of thing.

Or maybe not. Perhaps an atheist could answer this question better. 

Well I myself can't, because you've done an amazing job with that answer, koabac. Just some comments from "the atheist's perspective", i.e. mine and mine alone - we don't all meet on a Wednesday and synchronise our ideas :-)

koabac posted:
I suppose these potential dangers, in their minds, outweigh the personal comfort of the those who find quiet solace and meaning in their religion. In the mind of the atheist, these people have found comfort in a fairy tale and are in denial of reality, which they consider psychologically unhealthy. 

I'm worried about the dangers on the big scale (you mentioned the scenarios linked to the potential for manipulation; whereas scientific thinking teaches you an individual critical approach and encourages questioning authorities). I think most atheists don't worry about "psychologically unhealthy" thinking in individuals - to each their own.

koabac posted:
where the reach of science ends, being okay with the idea of "I don't know" and enjoying and contemplating all the wonders and mysteries of life and the universe without being handed easy, convenient answers. 

This is why I'm quite surprised that some people here have seen "searching for answers" and "wondering about the universe" as a sign of belief or spirituality. It is just human, and the starting point for both religion (or spirituality) and science. It's just that these fields have taken rather different roads to deal with such questions.

About the labels (the issue of "atheist Neil" or "agnostic Neil" has been mentioned in this thread): There are very very few "atheists" according to the narrow definition of this term. You'd have to say "I KNOW there is no God", which no one with a scientifically inspired mind would ever say. So we're all agnostics then. But then only few religious people that I know would say "I KNOW there is a God". Also agnostics then?

I suppose most of us, believers and non-believers, are sitting towards opposite ends of a continuum, which makes distinctive labelling quite tricky. The use of the word "atheist" has come to refer to people who live their lives and make their decisions based on the assumption that there is no God (evidence, probability etc.). Hence the term "agnostic" has declined in use in the last ten years or so.

I just sometimes wonder whether some people think atheists walk around with only their beloved facts in mind, viewing everything that is emotional, intuitive, moving, heartbreaking, incomprehensible, confusing or transcendent as irrational irrelevant nonsense, and thus cannot be creative or artistic. We really don't. (Evolutionary biology has found that empathy was in all likelihood the biggest driving force to make us a successful species, so... it's only natural. Sorry about that, I'll see myself out.)

Mica posted:

Well I myself can't, because you've done an amazing job with that answer, koabac. Just some comments from "the atheist's perspective", i.e. mine and mine alone - we don't all meet on a Wednesday and synchronise our ideas :-)

koabac posted:
I suppose these potential dangers, in their minds, outweigh the personal comfort of the those who find quiet solace and meaning in their religion. In the mind of the atheist, these people have found comfort in a fairy tale and are in denial of reality, which they consider psychologically unhealthy. 

I'm worried about the dangers on the big scale (you mentioned the scenarios linked to the potential for manipulation; whereas scientific thinking teaches you an individual critical approach and encourages questioning authorities). I think most atheists don't worry about "psychologically unhealthy" thinking in individuals - to each their own.

koabac posted:
where the reach of science ends, being okay with the idea of "I don't know" and enjoying and contemplating all the wonders and mysteries of life and the universe without being handed easy, convenient answers. 

This is why I'm quite surprised that some people here have seen "searching for answers" and "wondering about the universe" as a sign of belief or spirituality. It is just human, and the starting point for both religion (or spirituality) and science. It's just that these fields have taken rather different roads to deal with such questions.

About the labels (the issue of "atheist Neil" or "agnostic Neil" has been mentioned in this thread): There are very very few "atheists" according to the narrow definition of this term. You'd have to say "I KNOW there is no God", which no one with a scientifically inspired mind would ever say. So we're all agnostics then. But then only few religious people that I know would say "I KNOW there is a God". Also agnostics then?

I suppose most of us, believers and non-believers, are sitting towards opposite ends of a continuum, which makes distinctive labelling quite tricky. The use of the word "atheist" has come to refer to people who live their lives and make their decisions based on the assumption that there is no God (evidence, probability etc.). Hence the term "agnostic" has declined in use in the last ten years or so.

I just sometimes wonder whether some people think atheists walk around with only their beloved facts in mind, viewing everything that is emotional, intuitive, moving, heartbreaking, incomprehensible, confusing or transcendent as irrational irrelevant nonsense, and thus cannot be creative or artistic. We really don't. (Evolutionary biology has found that empathy was in all likelihood the biggest driving force to make us a successful species, so... it's only natural. Sorry about that, I'll see myself out.)

Well said, SSS. In terms of my point about the quiet, non-dangerous religious people who an atheist might see as clinging to a fairy tale which could also be seen as "psychologically unhealthy," my point was to just get out in front if the argument that the vast majority of religious people are NOT dangerous in any way and get so much peace and comfort from their beliefs that it seems cruel and wrong-headed to take that away from them. Perhaps it is.

The thought, however, was to the non-religious, the potential dangers of religion simply outweigh the comfort religion gives these (majority of) people and, furthermore, the the "cruelty" of taking religion away can be mitigated by secular morality and science-based psychological and emotional therapies, which can give comfort and solace just as well religious ones. The only thing secular and science-based beliefs can't give you are assurances that when you die, you will go to Heaven and still be you and see all the loved ones you've lost and live forever in complete bliss. On the other side, science won't tell you if you don't behave yourself, you will burn in torturous fire for all eternity, so sit up straight. If you truly need either of these two extremes of reward or punishment in order to not to go out and start chopping people up with axes, that could seem a little psychologically unhealthy. 

To your point about religious people saying "I KNOW there is a God," I always thought "faith" was an essential aspect of religion (or certain religions). Faith requires doubt and uncertainty. You cannot have both proof and faith, therefore anyone who claims they KNOW there is a God, does not have faith there is a God. 

As for Neil Finn, his constant references to nature and water and the skies, his questioning and probing of love and its different meanings and shades, to me, make him seem like spiritual seeker with pantheistic leanings. I imagine his definition of "God" would not be in keeping with any established, organized religion. 

 

Welsh Dan posted:

I'm not religious. But I'm tolerant of the fact that other people may have beliefs different to my own. And I don't read the Daily Mail. I also recognise many people feel the need to address spirituality. Does this make me an atheist?

Not that I'm an expert, but no, it doesn't make you an atheist. You'd be an atheist if you believed it was a fact that no God existed.

Welsh Dan: Tolerance and avoidance of the Daily Mail are fully compatible with atheism :-) So is not being too bothered about the "correct" label for the way you live your life... (I'm okay with "atheist" as a descriptive term for myself, even though I obviously don't KNOW that God doesn't exist. I haven't written it on my doorbell, though. It's amazing how rarely it comes up.)

koabac: I really enjoy reading your posts, and your latest was another one I can almost completely agree with. I think most atheists have no interest making other people unhappy by taking away their source of solace, even if they think its delusional. If there is an urge to proselytize it's rather weak, just as with most people who just want to live their own sweet lives. I just put my atheist hat on and get vocal if religion is used to interfere with other people's happiness. Gay rights come to mind, assisted suicide etc. This is when a lot of atheists, including myself, call for less influence of religious groups in the PUBLIC sphere (politics, education, the media). What people do in their private lives is none of our business.

There's one thing, though, that I haven't yet understood.

koabac posted:
As for Neil Finn, his constant references to nature and water and the skies, his questioning and probing of love and its different meanings and shades, to me, make him seem like spiritual seeker with pantheistic leanings. I imagine his definition of "God" would not be in keeping with any established, organized religion. 

 

I don't get the connection between a) an obsession with the natural world and the big human emotions, and b) spirituality or theism (in whatever form). There is no logical step from a) to b) for me. Can you or someone else explain this?

What I do think, however, is that the analysis of Neil's lyrics as the basis of our insights into his mind has its limits, given his "impressionistic style" and tendency to go for words that "sound good" :-)

Mica posted:

Welsh Dan: Tolerance and avoidance of the Daily Mail are fully compatible with atheism :-) So is not being too bothered about the "correct" label for the way you live your life... (I'm okay with "atheist" as a descriptive term for myself, even though I obviously don't KNOW that God doesn't exist. I haven't written it on my doorbell, though. It's amazing how rarely it comes up.)

koabac: I really enjoy reading your posts, and your latest was another one I can almost completely agree with. I think most atheists have no interest making other people unhappy by taking away their source of solace, even if they think its delusional. If there is an urge to proselytize it's rather weak, just as with most people who just want to live their own sweet lives. I just put my atheist hat on and get vocal if religion is used to interfere with other people's happiness. Gay rights come to mind, assisted suicide etc. This is when a lot of atheists, including myself, call for less influence of religious groups in the PUBLIC sphere (politics, education, the media). What people do in their private lives is none of our business.

There's one thing, though, that I haven't yet understood.

koabac posted:
As for Neil Finn, his constant references to nature and water and the skies, his questioning and probing of love and its different meanings and shades, to me, make him seem like spiritual seeker with pantheistic leanings. I imagine his definition of "God" would not be in keeping with any established, organized religion. 

 

I don't get the connection between a) an obsession with the natural world and the big human emotions, and b) spirituality or theism (in whatever form). There is no logical step from a) to b) for me. Can you or someone else explain this?

What I do think, however, is that the analysis of Neil's lyrics as the basis of our insights into his mind has its limits, given his "impressionistic style" and tendency to go for words that "sound good" :-)

Oh, I agree that really trying to answer the question of anyone's true belief system by analyzing their lyrics is spurious. I also agree that it's the public imposition of one's belief system on others that is the real issue and most non-religious people would keep to themselves if they didn't see their rights being threatened by something they see as not very different from Santa Claus. 

In terms of Finn, the connection I was making (taking into consideration what we agreed on above) was IF Neil Finn does believe in any sort of spiritual or religious realm, his references to, almost awe of, nature and love suggests a pantheistic view - that "God" is not some outside, separate being looking down and judging, but is, rather, everywhere and everything - a non-sentient "life-force" that, through nature and love (deeper connection with other people and/or lifeforms, like "Lester") can be tapped into ("and it brings me relief") and communed with and where one can find spiritual healing/cleansing and emotional/mental centering. That was the connection I was making - and it was a hypothetical, if I HAD to guess at his beliefs based on what little information I have, I would look in THAT direction. It certainly wasn't supposed to sound confident or definitive. 

Interesting discussion for a music forum, but God works in mysterious ways

xo koabac

Ah, that clears it up, I hadn't read the IF. Thanks! And I agree.

koabac posted:
Interesting discussion for a music forum, but God works in mysterious ways

Doesn't she...  Or it?

Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always. It's because I'm not quite an atheist and it worries me. There's that little bit that holds on: 'Well, I'm almost an atheist. Give me a couple of months.'
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/david_bowie_451737
Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always. It's because I'm not quite an atheist and it worries me. There's that little bit that holds on: 'Well, I'm almost an atheist. Give me a couple of months.'
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/david_bowie_451737
Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always. It's because I'm not quite an atheist and it worries me. There's that little bit that holds on: 'Well, I'm almost an atheist. Give me a couple of months.'
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/david_bowie_451737

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