While on a treadmill at a fitness club, I noticed a woman reading a book with a chapter title, "God Is Everywhere." I asked her how she knew God was everywhere. She said that she knew because she had a strong sense of him. I said that I had the strongest sense imagionable of Santa Clause when I was 8. She said, THAT'S NOT THE SAME THING! However, it is the same thing, is it not? In both cases, the entities are supernatural. In both cases, we have been told by elders to believe in impossible magic with zero empirical evidence. Doesn't it follow then that, just like a child must grow up one day to accept there is no Santa Clause, adults need to come to terms with the truth about their imaginary friend in the sky? Thanks, Jeff

If the concept of God that you are considering is simply an adult version of Santa Claus, then you are correct that just as a child must one accept that there is no Santa Claus, so an adult needs to come to terms with the truth that their is no adult version of Santa Clause, what you call "their imaginary friend in the sky." However, there are concepts of God which are not simply adult versions of Santa Claus, and so even if adults should give up their belief in a God that is an adult version of Santa Claus, it does not follow that they should give up their belief in a different concept of God.

Are theism and atheism mutually exclusive positions? This would seem to be the case if theism is understood to be the presence of a belief in god and atheism is the absence of a belief in god - there is no middle ground. So where does agnosticism fit in? Even Bertrand Russell sometimes couldn't decide whether to call himself an atheist or an agnostic.

Both theism and atheism presuppose that there is some clear meaning to the word "God." However, this does not seem to be true. For Spinoza, God has none of the personal characteristics that the God of various religions is supposed to have. Spinoza has been called a pantheist, and another view of God in which God does not interefere with the world at all, is called deism. Many theists regard pantheists and deists as atheists. The term "agnostic" seems to have clear sense only when talking about whether there is particular kind of God, e.g., the Christian God. I doubt that Bertrand Russell was an agnostic in this sense. The only sense in which I can imagine Russell being an agnostic is that he might have thought that there could be some concept of God that was plausible, perhaps a concept like that of Spinoza. I should point out, contrary to what I suggested in the previous paragraph, there is not even any clear concept of a Christian God. Aquinas thought that we could not make any positive...