Can anything we accept as a first principle be justified by intellectual argument? You apparently take as your first principle that the universe is just here and came to be entirely on its own and was not brought into being or shaped or influenced in any way by any kind of being, consciousness, intelligent force, or whatever. Can I assume you take sensory data and thought about that data as being the only information worth considering? How do you justify that intellectually? And you may not think you do, but your tone toward "religious people" does come off as derisive. Your attitude seems to be that unless whatever experience they claim to have of any kind of divinity is easily communicable than it's not worth considering, an approach that does not seem to me as non-judgmental and open-minded as you think it is. I hope not, that gets extremely tiresome. If anything I think the difference is an acknowledgement or belief that there's some sort of intelligence or presence that is either responsible for or infused through all phenomena. And I don't think that you have to be a theist to have such an experience, rather that it comes down to an interpretation of one's experience. It's not a "creature" if it's the very reason for there being a universe in the first place. And in the eyes of one who believes in such a presence it's as real as the awareness of one's own self, if not realer. Sorry, not following that. With the difference that it's a character completely made up by atheists for the sole purpose of ridiculing believers. Although maybe the Flying Spaghetti Monster might be a very appropriate deity for those who subscribe to String Theory. It is a very poetic image. I asked myself the same thing after I wrote my last post. "Wait, what were we talking about again?" Correct, but if anything I'm arguing for giving the benefit of the doubt to people who claim not easily communicable experiences, such as for example an intuition or experience of "something more" informing the phenomenal world. But I agree that this is in no way "proof", and that the evidence is only circumstantial. Yes, but I think discovering the existence/non-existence of something is not always obvious. If I see millions of people pointing towards something, even if I can't see it and the descriptions all vary, I'm intrigued by the fact that they're pointing and the possibility that they are attempting to describe different aspects of something real but difficult if not impossible to grab hold of. I would say yes, they're real, or at least something about the experience is real, even if it's just a feature of the human mind that's misinterpreted by the individual. And I think our difference regarding materialism is that you see it as the default option that makes sense as a foundation for our existence, whereas I think that there's an epistemological choice involved to interpret all non-physical phenomena (dreams, visions, inner awareness) as being an epiphenomenon of material existence rather than something with a reality in and of itself. About everything. I mean that everything you and I know is probably wrong. Or at least so partial that it's effectively wrong.