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#1 Old 11-13-2003, 06:22 PM
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(Moderator): This was split from the Male Vegans thread in the Relationships & Family forum.







atheists rule!



sorry o/t
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#2 Old 11-13-2003, 08:53 PM
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[QUOTE=Epinephrine]atheists rule!



yes, i tend to think so too.
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#3 Old 11-13-2003, 11:19 PM
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Can someone please explain atheism to me?



I just don't get it...(i am by no means a religious person in the organized religions' sense), but atheism just doesn't make sense to me.



I mean, the active disbelief in something is impossible. You can not prove a negative.



And I know that it is not proof we're talking about, but belief. Which is even more vexing to me.



If your belief is the active disbelief of someone else's belief, then what do you actually believe for yourself? Its like there's not enough imagination or thought to believe in something original or unique, so the only way to be different is to disbelieve in others' beliefs...or maybe its a step toward unique thought, I don't know (that's why I'm asking)



Belief is what you feel is right for yourself and your reality as you live through it. I just don't understand how you can define your religion/spirituality by disbelieving in something that someone else believes in.



It's like saying that your vegetarian because you don't believe in eating meat, not that there are all of these positive things that you actually do believe in, which is why you are vegetarian, or whatever.



Another parallel is in Catholicism where the impetus to do good deeds is to stay out of hell and go to heaven...thereby inducing people to act out of fear rather than love. If you do good things because you are afraid of some consequence, be it in this world or another, then the act that you are committing is false and can never be a good, true one.....



Just a question and some thoughts..
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#4 Old 11-13-2003, 11:30 PM
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Is it impossible for you to disbelieve that little invisible bunnies created the world? If someone came up to you and talked about the bunnies.. would you feel the need to prove they don't exist? Or would you just not believe?
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#5 Old 11-14-2003, 12:16 AM
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you should start another thread and keep on topic
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#6 Old 11-14-2003, 12:22 AM
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oopsie
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#7 Old 11-14-2003, 12:33 AM
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i didn't mean you, marie!
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#8 Old 11-14-2003, 12:33 AM
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Hehe..



oops again then.
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#9 Old 11-14-2003, 05:46 AM
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nah, logicaly, its not up to the atheist to prove anything. its up to the religious person who claims a "god" or "gods" exsist to prove they exsist. its like me saying pigs r blue and they fly to mars every morning, u then can say no they don't, it would be up to me to prove that in fact they do, if i cannot prove my statement, by default, u can then say they do not.



no offense to anyone here, i do not go around preaching atheism and i expect the same amount of courtesy when it comes to my beliefs as i have for yours.
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#10 Old 11-14-2003, 06:35 AM
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Georgefran, I feel the sentiment expressed in your post. I have a hard time understanding how someone can build a lifestyle around a lack of belief. Maybe that´s one of those things in life that is ¨too complex a mystery for me to understand¨. (half kidding)

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#11 Old 11-14-2003, 06:54 AM
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From Wikipedia



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The term atheism is formed of the Greek prefix a- (meaning "without" or "not") and the Greek-derived theism, meaning a belief in a god or gods. The literal meaning of the term is therefore without a belief in a god or gods, making any person who does not believe in the existence of a god or gods an atheist -- including both those who assert that no gods exists and those who, for whatever reason, do not make any assertion regarding the existence of gods. In modern usage as reflected in most dictionaries, atheism is the assertion that no gods exists, or that the existence of gods has infinitesimal probability. Atheism is not synonymous with irreligion; the idea of an eternal non-created universe is an important concept in some religions and as such it is possible to be very religious and very atheistic.



The term agnosticism (coined by T.H. Huxley in 1869) describes a form of philosophical scepticism in which the existence of gods is considered undecidable or in which inquiry into the existence is considered unproductive.



Some writers, especially online, use the term "strong atheism" (also "explicit" or "hard" atheism) for the denial of the existence of gods, and "weak atheism" (also "implicit" or "soft" atheism) for mere lack of belief, without the active denial of gods. In the freethought tradition, analogous terms are "positive" and "negative" atheism. Within this scheme, agnosticism represents a rationale for weak atheism. However, none of these terms are in common use.

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#12 Old 11-14-2003, 06:59 AM
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I'd say that I'm an atheist insofar that I don't believe people who claim to know that there is a god, because I have no reason to.



I don't know if there's really a god or creator or whatnot (that makes me maybe more an agnostic).



But I definitely don't believe that there's a Heaven and Hell and burning bushes and Garden Eden and voices from the sky etc. just because a book or some people say so. There is no credible evidence for it, hence I don't believe it. Just like I don't believe in UFOs. This is the core of my atheism(?).







Quote:
Originally Posted by skylark View Post

I have a hard time understanding how someone can build a lifestyle around a lack of belief.



I don't think atheists are doing that (building their lifestyle around non-belief). You can build a life and your core values around love, friendships, morality, science, Humanism and even spirituality - without religion.
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#13 Old 11-14-2003, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by georgefran View Post

Another parallel is in Catholicism where the impetus to do good deeds is to stay out of hell and go to heaven...thereby inducing people to act out of fear rather than love. If you do good things because you are afraid of some consequence, be it in this world or another, then the act that you are committing is false and can never be a good, true one.....





Just to point this out, but this is not a correct description of catholic doctrine or teaching. In fact, the purpose of good deeds is not to avoid hell, but to attain heaven--which is a state of union with God. It is to develope into a fully realized human being (such as Jesus was) using the path and teachings of Christ (therefore "christianity" by name).



this is the purpose and teachings of most religions. For instance, one could say "Buddhism is about avoiding suffering, and therefore is fear-based." In fact, Buddhism is about right action in order to attain enlightenment which in truen alleviates or ends suffering. By the same token, christianity (in most cases, particularly the orthodoxy) is also about right action in order to attain heaven (bliss, enlightenment, union with God) which then allievaties or moves away from hell (suffering, etc).



Just thought that i would point that out.
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#14 Old 11-14-2003, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Marie View Post

Is it impossible for you to disbelieve that little invisible bunnies created the world? If someone came up to you and talked about the bunnies.. would you feel the need to prove they don't exist? Or would you just not believe?





this reminds me of a story that i heard from a friend of mine who is native american. In the native american tradition of his community, the earth is supported by a turtle. In fact, it rests on the back of a turtle. (much like Atlas to the Greeks.)



when one of my friend's young children was learning about the universe in school, she came home asking about the turtle. She said that school didn't mention the turtle, and when she asked the teacher, the teacher said there was no turtle.



My friend responded that the turtle is an image of how the earth is always safe and secure--etc. Then the daughter asked: but what is under the turtle if space is forever? To which my friend responded: it's turtles all the way down.



I don't have to "believe" in turtles all the way down to understand or "believe" in the story. I actually like the idea of "turtles all the way down" and my friend certainly "believes" it on many levels as an aspect of his belief system. Whether it's literal belief or figurative--it still holds meaning and purpose.
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#15 Old 11-14-2003, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Oatmeal View Post

I don't think atheists are doing that (building their lifestyle around non-belief). You can build a life and your core values around love, friendships, morality, science, Humanism and even spirituality - without religion.



I completely agree. I get the feeling that a lot of it (symbols, churches, bibles, etc.) is for show, or comfort.
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#16 Old 11-14-2003, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Oatmeal

Quote:
I don't think atheists are doing that (building their lifestyle around non-belief). You can build a life and your core values around love, friendships, morality, science, Humanism and even spirituality - without religion.



i agree.
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#17 Old 11-14-2003, 08:23 AM
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props to oatmeal, he said what I would have.
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#18 Old 11-14-2003, 08:52 AM
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I also concur with Oatmeals observation of atheists. I have considered myself an atheist for much of my life, not because of the fact that I dont believe in God, but because my beliefs dont involve God. I call myself an atheist only when in the presence of those people who believe in God, because it is something they understand. Normally I consider myself a free-spirit, however, that doesnt seem to fit into their Your either with us, or against God view of the world. Using the term atheist seems to sum that up nicely for them (not to say that some Christians/Catholics cant wrap their heads around the idea of someone who has a religion/spirituality that doesnt involve either the belief or disbelief in God).



Most of my friends are what you might call atheists, but I cant think of a single one who bases their beliefs on a disbelief in God. I sometimes wonder if that concept is simply a construct of the Christian/Catholic mind.
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#19 Old 11-14-2003, 08:58 AM
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Most of my friends are what you might call atheists, but I cant think of a single one who bases their beliefs on a disbelief in God. I sometimes wonder if that concept is simply a construct of the Christian/Catholic mind.





yeah i tend to only use the term to differentiate myself from one who has their beliefs centered from a religious standpoint.
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#20 Old 11-14-2003, 09:30 AM
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The term agnosticism (coined by T.H. Huxley in 1869) describes a form of philosophical scepticism in which the existence of gods is considered undecidable or in which inquiry into the existence is considered unproductive.



Thanks for your post, Oatmeal! I am an agnostic when it comes to the existence of a God; I'm an atheist when it comes to "traditional" heaven and hell concepts, as welll as the dogmatic interpretations of the nature of "God".
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#21 Old 11-14-2003, 10:11 AM
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The term agnosticism (coined by T.H. Huxley in 1869) describes a form of philosophical scepticism in which the existence of gods is considered undecidable



Yes, a gnosis, no knowledge. No one knows that God exists, no one knows that God doesn't exist, so atheism is about probabilities. In any case, an atheist is an agnostic. Believe is to hold probable, so an atheist is a person who holds probable that gods don't exist.

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#22 Old 11-14-2003, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by skylark View Post

Georgefran, I feel the sentiment expressed in your post. I have a hard time understanding how someone can build a lifestyle around a lack of belief. Maybe that´s one of those things in life that is ¨too complex a mystery for me to understand¨. (half kidding)



Well, assuming you are being honest in your question. It primarily becomes an issue because believers make it an issue. The only reason that we divide the world up into the dualities of theist/athiest is because theists have promoted the myth that belief in god defines your morality, your ethics, your politics, and your place in this world.



Athiesm is a catch-all phrase just like theism. Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Rastafarians, Hindus, and Traditional Polytheists are all theists, but it does not make sense to lump them together. Likewise, Humanists, Marxists, Objectivists, and Classical Epicurians are all atheist, but have very different views and beliefs.



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Originally Posted by georgefan View Post

It's like saying that your vegetarian because you don't believe in eating meat, not that there are all of these positive things that you actually do believe in, which is why you are vegetarian, or whatever.



Well, you just bring up an interesting analogy. A person who does not eat meat defines what a vegetarian is. Likewise, a person without a belief in god defines what an athiest is. But as you point out, just the absence of a meat-based diet is not the sum total of what vegetarianism is about. Some of us here are animal rights activists. Others are concerned about health. Still others (such as myself) come to vegetarianism through a commitment to nonviolence.



Likewise, you seem to suffer from the common stereotype that atheists are wandering around in this existential fog with a big gap in their "souls" just waiting to be filled by the good news. Perhaps one of the reasons you just don't understand is that you can't see athiesm in any other way than just lacking something. I lack a belief in god in the same way that I lack a $500 turnup peeler. I don't have one, only think of one when someone insists that my life is lacking without one, and don't see why anyone would have such a monstrosity in their kitchen.



Part of the problem is that IMO, theists just don't understand what I do believe, without trying to tack god onto it. If I say that the universe is a wonderful place worthy of awe, the theist response would be to ask why I don't believe in a creator. If I say that I believe in non-violence, the theist will ask how can I have moral values without big daddy god. God is trivial, I'm too busy living the best life I can to worry about God.



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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Yes, a gnosis, no knowledge. No one knows that God exists, no one knows that God doesn't exist, so atheism is about probabilities. In any case, an atheist is an agnostic. Believe is to hold probable, so an atheist is a person who holds probable that gods don't exist.



Oh, I'm not so convinced of that. I think that Epicurus for example did believe that gods did not exist in the Platonic sense as an absolute truth rather than a probable one.
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#23 Old 11-14-2003, 12:11 PM
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I've built my life around a number of meaningful beliefs. The existence of an external spiritual force like God is not one of them.



I imagine people who believe in God, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny also believe in a lot of other things, probably even some of the same things I believe in, like gravity.



Maybe I should just call myself a Bright from now on... Nah.
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#24 Old 11-14-2003, 12:43 PM
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there are a few nuances to the question of atheism.

for intance, what constitutes a God? Is the eternal, unified totally of Buddhism a God? Also, we have established that atheists reject invisible, pink unicorns. What else do they reject in their skepticism? Do they reject the possibility of the non-physical (this is assuming they believe in the physical/non-physical division)? Atheists have thoughts in their heads, I'm assuming (I did when I was one). These thoughts, although they originate through physical means, cannot be described as physical under current definitions of physicality.



>>nah, logicaly, its not up to the atheist to prove anything. its up to the religious person who claims a "god" or "gods" exsist to prove they exsist. >>



this is if

1. we accept the scientific method.

2. we accept non-theism as a sensible null-hypothesis.



This actually seems pretty sensible to me 'cause

1. The scientific method seems to have yeilded good results which have been put into practice.

2. "God exists" is not a disprovable null hypothesis whereas "God doesn't exist" is disprovable.



>>re: morality>>



This is a question for atheists.

Do you believe in objective morality?

If so, on what grounds is it based?



I am NOT saying that I find theistic morality any more satisfying. Morality delievered from the will of God(s) gives me the same vibe as a parent telling a child "because I said so!". most disatisfying.



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np: depeche mode
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#25 Old 11-14-2003, 12:55 PM
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Quote:

Quote:

Yes, a gnosis, no knowledge. No one knows that God exists, no one knows that God doesn't exist, so atheism is about probabilities. In any case, an atheist is an agnostic. Believe is to hold probable, so an atheist is a person who holds probable that gods don't exist.



Oh, I'm not so convinced of that. I think that Epicurus for example did believe that gods did not exist in the Platonic sense as an absolute truth rather than a probable one.



Yes, and Descartes believed he had proven the existence of God in an objective manner. I should have used the qualifier "anyone who knows basic epistemology" in my earlier post. Although, it's not so important, because I might just say that Epicurus wasn't an atheist according to my definition - he just was an erroneous thinker. It's (at least should be) so rare nowadays to know that god(s) don't exist that we should use some different term for those persons - fundamentalists?

"and I stand

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#26 Old 11-14-2003, 01:33 PM
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I think that you might actually find a few "fundamentalist atheists" on VB.
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#27 Old 11-14-2003, 01:47 PM
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Great post, kirk. Especially the part about how some (not all) theists don't see how a nonbeliever can have moral values or be in awe of the universe without belief in God.



One technicality though, many Buddhists (especially Theravada and Zen Buddhists) generally are not theists, at least not in the Western concept of a theist.
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#28 Old 11-14-2003, 02:19 PM
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Yes, and Descartes believed he had proven the existence of God in an objective manner. I should have used the qualifier "anyone who knows basic epistemology" in my earlier post.



Adding error to error there. For one thing, basic epistemology does tell us that there is a dramatic difference between knowledge in different domains. It is not "probably" true that the set of whole numbers is infinite for example. If we can add 1+1 then it MUST be true that the set of whole numbers is infinite. Scientific probability is not capable of dealing comfortably with infinities or singletons for example.



Quote:
Although, it's not so important, because I might just say that Epicurus wasn't an atheist according to my definition - he just was an erroneous thinker.



And I would definitely say a definition that muddies atheism with epistemology is a basically flawed definition. Athiesm is simply the lack of belief in god or gods. You can reach the same conclusion through a variety of different epistemologies..



Quote:
It's (at least should be) so rare nowadays to know that god(s) don't exist that we should use some different term for those persons - fundamentalists?



Why? If you must split hairs here, you could go towards the standing consensus of week athiesm vs. strong atheism. I would prefer logical atheists vs. scientific atheists to highlight the differences in epistemology. (Hardy and Marx would be historical examples of the former, while Russell and Sagan would be examples of the latter.) In addition, the primary thing that separates scientific atheists from logical athiests is that the scientists consider the logical arguments useful but not a slam dunk.
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#29 Old 11-14-2003, 03:46 PM
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Adding error to error there. For one thing, basic epistemology does tell us that there is a dramatic difference between knowledge in different domains.



That kind of difference is here irrelevant, for it was about the distinction between to know and to believe. Either you know, or you don't know. When something is only extremely probable, you don't know it, and it doesn't matter which domain the object of the probability belief is in. You can define knowing as having arguments you believe in, but that won't matter either, for this will not be a definition of knowing but the definition of strong belief.



Quote:
And I would definitely say a definition that muddies atheism with epistemology is a basically flawed definition.



This would be quite odd, for I tried to separate agnosticism from atheism. When I do that, I will deal with the 'gnosis' part of 'a gnosis'. In other words, epistemology.



Quote:
Athiesm is simply the lack of belief in god or gods. You can reach the same conclusion through a variety of different epistemologies..



The subject, atheist or theist, will have a certain view about the existence of a certain object. This will necessarily be about probability in the case of the existence of god(s), for it is a priori true that given the methods of acquiring knowledge about other minds a human subject is unable to know that god(s) exist and unable to know that they don't exist. So, lack of belief is equal to holding a small probability for the existence or a great probability for the non-existence.



Quote:
I would prefer logical atheists vs. scientific atheists to highlight the differences in epistemology. (Hardy and Marx would be historical examples of the former, while Russell and Sagan would be examples of the latter.)



I wouldn't, for that would probably lead to definitions for knowledge that would violate against for example the definition "grounded, true belief". The part 'true' is in the case of the existence/non-existence of god(s) impossible to fulfill, unless we define truth as a probability. Hence, a gnosis and either a great probability for existence (theism) or small probability for existence (atheism). Zero and 100 per cent probabilities would be gnosis, but this is impossible.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#30 Old 11-14-2003, 03:58 PM
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Personally, i'm agnostic. I think atheism is similar, but I believe that the answer to the question of "Does God exist?" is answered "No" by an atheist, and "I don't know" by an agnostic. I'm in the latter variety.
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