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Rakesh
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very true.
One of the reasons I put "the way I see it" before almost every paragraph. Didn't say it was perfect, after all I made it up, but it works like a charm to me.
You could say I just tried to convert you, for I have sneaked in the 3 comament of my religion!

1) To die with no regrets.
2) Don't kill people for pleasure.
and third but not least!
3) Have a little bit of common sense.

How very sly of me, uh?

Interesting point about Atheists, that one you made. In that statement, "I am my own god", you've just compared them to the modern luciferians and in a minor scale to the buddists. Get what I'm saying about the blind fellows poking around? But what of this? I think I am a part of something far greater than myself ( the spinoza's view of a deity if you're wondering, quite a fascinating point of view that man had, he's a good read). I think I'm just a tiny microorganism functioning as a part of a bigger macrosystem some will call the universe, and others would call god. So if I am a part of "god", then I must be god, as much as a part of me constitutes "me". And I also act upon the rules that I myself proclaim if I can get away with them.

Does that make me an atheist?

And about the christian thingie, well, the bible also says that thou shall not wear clothes from more than two different fabrics and that guys who bump uglies with other guys end up with a firey angel literaly raining sulfur on their parade. I'm pretty sure not every christian these days takes the bible to the letter (those christians that have read the bible, that is). But that's my whole point! It's doesn't matter. It's just a book, written by a couple of guys, very good book, don't get me wrong, I heard it's been quite the best seller for some time now.

But what I think really matters is what you get out of that book.The teachings that can help you through today. And I don't know if you've people ever been to a third world country, but trust me, hope is a very rare comodity there. I've seen people who's crap didn't just hit the fan, the fan then exploded, and those people will then go to bed thinking that perhaps there is a better life than walking 20km to get clean water and wondering all the while if they're gonna come back home with all the same numbers of limbs they started the day with, if they come back at all.
And I say if they go to bed with half a smile on their faces then the bible was totally worth it.

Will there be another life for them? Who knows? But hey, if there isn't, who cares? If there is, then they're going to a way nicer placer with four other fellows (unless he's the new testament guy, that guy sounds waaaaaaay more forgiving compared to the other one) while the rest of us rot in hell to the best-soundtrack-ever. (I'm gonna be so angry if the don't have good rock&roll in hell). So all in all, where's the harm?

But returning to an earlier point. I saw in a post by dutch84 saying that atheism is not some belief structure. And how most atheist will ask "proof" when confronted with something that cannot be proven. And I gotta say I disagree. Or do atheist don't believe in "love", and "justice", or everyone's favorite, "truth".

Because I can assure you. They do experience love, wich is about the biggest leap of faith you can take without trying to reenact a certain scene of Indiana Jones and the last crusade involving lion heads and nazis.

And yes, deny it if you will, but we all have a very personal definition to the word justice that might not quite fit with the one you find in the dictionary.

And truth, don't even get me started. I remember when our physics teacher told us that all that we've been taught where just little lies to try and swallow bigger lies that where yet to come. And how everything that we as a species had learned didn't even begin to unravel the misteries of that beautiful big ol' nightsky of hours. I will always remember that day because that's when I truly understood just how far of the mark we still where. It got me real excited, because that sounded like the kind of endless journey totally worth having.

Do you need proof for these things? Because they're a real female dog to proof.

Well, those my man, are beliefs. And we all have them if we are human. We can call them by many different names. Desires, prayers, wishes, expectations.... But all in all, just a part of human nature.Everyone has them (unless you're a robot, then you have no soul. Tough luck). Just because some wear fancy pants and others don't doesn't mean they're any different.

I guess when it comes right down to it, the only real difference I see between religious people and atheists is all about the fashion Wink

(unless you're a robot, then you have no soul. Tough luck)
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TFBW
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 6:35 am    Post subject: Re: What? Reply with quote

Dutch84 wrote:
Lacavin, you're using a positive to assert a negative. + & - still = - By that logic I could I say "I do believe that unicorns DON'T EXIST." Which is just the same as saying I don't believe in unicorns.

If you want to get precise and technical about things, then there is a difference between "belief in not X" and "not believing in X": the former is a stronger claim than the latter. This is supposed to be the difference between atheism and agnosticism: the atheist claims that there is no God, whereas the agnostic claims not to know whether there is a God. Neither believes in the existence of God, but the atheist asserts the non-existence of God, whereas the agnostic does not.

I'm an agnostic about unicorns. I don't believe they exist, but I'd avoid asserting that they don't exist. If I were to place a bet, I'd bet against, but a horse with a horn isn't all that big a stretch, biologically speaking, so I'm not game to assert the negative outright.

Dutch84 wrote:
Secondly, to say that there is no real atheists around; care to back that up? Because the last time I checked, you could count countries like Sweden, Denmark and even Australia as having a majority.

I have no idea how you managed to include Australia in that list, given the source (which says 18.7% classified themselves as non-religious in the 2006 census), but even Sweden and Denmark don't have a majority of atheists. They have a minority of theists, and a majority of non-theists, but that's not the same as a majority of atheists. The biggest population of professing atheists seems to be in France, and even that's only 33% (a smidgin less than the theists at 34%). Even there, they don't seem to make a distinction between atheism and agnosticism in the categories, so it's doubtful that genuine atheists are so well represented.

As I say, this still appears to be a game of semantics. You're asserting a particular set of definitions for "belief" and "atheist". The rest of us are struggling to figure out what you mean, exactly.

Dutch84 wrote:
Ok TFBW...
Firstly when I meant your arguments, I meant ALL of them, from your ideas in Pascal's Wager to the Proof of God. Just my opinion though.

Okay, this brings us to the crux of the semantic game. I will concede that I classify atheism as a belief. I will also concede that I consider all personal beliefs to be part of a larger belief structure: a semi-organised collection of beliefs that a person holds. I think that part of our problem is that when I say "belief structure", you immediately think that such a thing must be external, like a set of rules imposed by a religious order. I come to this conclusion based on the following extract from your comments.

Dutch84 wrote:
As to how I came to the preconceived notion about 'Belief structure' when you use phrases like 'Atheist lifestyle' (like you did in the Pascals Wager argument) you're making an assertion that those who don't believe in god live according to a particular set standards and followed a codifed set of beliefs.
Those that don't believe in god have no set code. There is no holy book or scriptures for us to make our belief structure from. I can't speak nor would I speak for everyone, but I make my belief system from what yields the best results for me and the people around me because at the end of the day, my biggest judge is myself. Making the assumption that there is a larger framework involved is risky, because as an atheist myself, I'd like to know what that apparent framework is.

You've misinterpreted me. I'm not asserting that all atheists have exactly the same belief structure, or that their beliefs are officially codified anywhere. I wouldn't even assert that for Christians. Atheists have exactly one thing in common -- belief in the non-existence of God -- and they share that by definition. The consequent "atheist lifestyle" involves living one's daily life as though there were no God -- nothing more, nothing less -- and the practical outworking of this will mean different things for different people. The interesting thing one can draw from this is that most agnostics also live an atheist lifestyle. They profess not to know whether God exists, but they behave as though he does not. In practice, agnosticism is not the neutral territory it might seem to be in principle.

Dutch84 wrote:
Atheism is nothing more than a DISbelief in a deity nor deities. An default position until convinced otherwise. The burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim that there is a deity.

Well, as I pointed out above, there is a difference between "belief in not X" and "not believing in X". When you say "DISbelief in a deity", which of these do you mean?

The "default position" and "burden of proof" things are arbitrary, by the way. You get to decide your own "default position" and you get to dictate how much and what kind of proof you demand in order to shift out of that default position. This can be a simple and sure-fire way of justifying any belief: simply declare your belief to be the default position, and then demand something by way of proof that nobody can provide. Voila! Bulletproof justification!

Dutch84 wrote:
If Atheism is a belief system as you claim then that also means that people ACT on those beliefs, which means they pay homage to such beliefs. Christians celebrate a pagan holiday as the birth of Jesus, Muslims celebrate Ramadan in the same way. If Atheism works according to a larger framework as you claim, where are the Atheist holidays, the clothes, the rituals and rites etc?

Just because holidays and fancy dress aren't part of the atheist belief framework doesn't make it any less a belief framework. A belief is an attitude towards a doctrine, not a holiday or an article of clothing. Atheists act on their beliefs, but not by dressing up or observing holidays. Atheism is more often than not associated with an active disdain for religious rituals and rites -- based on the belief that such things are anti-intellectual, unenlightened, superstitious rubbish.
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lacavin
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before leaving for a month, let me make a statement to be sure I am not letting bad feelings behind me...

My point was:
1) I am not criticizing religions; I recognize all the things that religions brought to humanity (beginning with wonderful buildings I so like to visit that nobody would have bothered building without a religious drive). Moreover, most mainstream religions have actually a very good moral and usually targets at aims that I share and respect.

2) Religions are however also "ideas" or "ideologies". Human creativity is very high and in the name of ideologies we can do anything - wonderful or awful. Atheism is also an ideology and share the same potential.

3) The difference is that at the core of their ideology, most mainstream religions contains the idea so well put by Tempest_D
Quote:
To a Christian, converting someone to believe in the Christ is like pulling someone from a burning building. And it is in the scriptures that they are susposed to try and convert people, so, yes, it does matter.

In other words: you have to convince others for their own good. This is the dangerous part. I am pretty sure that e.g. Jesus meant: "share the good news, speak with enthousiasm, but leave your brothers their freedom to decide". But it is easy (but again: against the spirit of most religions) to go to the next step: To save somebody from a fire, I don't care if I break him a leg. Translated to the extreme: To save somebody from eternal hell, I don't care if I torture/kill him in temporal life.
Atheism does not have such a core. If others are of different opinions - who cares? They are just decieving themselves. So atheism is less dangerous as an ideology, is harder to misuse. Most of the "atheists" wars against religion were not "religiously motivated", I think, but "politically motivated" - i.e. not leaving an independant structure that may help contenders.

Now this is not an argument to promote atheism. Because for the same reason it is difficult to use atheism to motivate very bad deeds, it is also very difficult to use it to motivate very good deeds. I think that atheists and religious people can both be good or bad, but the chances to build a wonder of the world (Taj Mahal or a Vatican Cathedral) or to build hospitals in the poor regions of India is most probably higher with religious people. Greater paybacks come at greater risks.


Voila, I hope the misunderstandings are not too big and that religious people are not offended. Regading the other comments, I think TFBW answered very well to most questions.
One last remark: I never said there are no atheists. I simply guess there are many more sceptic agnostics, i.e. people that define themselves as "non believing in the set religions", which is different than "believing that no God does exist". When asked about my religion, I say "none" and therefore am probably counted as atheist in the statistics? Wikipedia interestingly shows also how difficult it is to count atheists in the article you linked.
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Caldazar
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok so I haven't been part of this discussion for quite a while but I'm gonna go ahead and jump right back in with a few remarks.

Quote:
The interesting thing one can draw from this is that most agnostics also live an atheist lifestyle. They profess not to know whether God exists, but they behave as though he does not. In practice, agnosticism is not the neutral territory it might seem to be in principle.


I'd actually say that this is wrong. Sure atheistic and agnostic lifestyle usually end up being the same but most agnostic I know (and I only count those who actually know the difference between being agnostic and being an atheist) profess that they don't actively pray or pay homage in any other way to a god but that they act in their lives out of their own morals and ethics in the hope that if there is a good he will recognise that they've lived a good life and not care for whether he worshipped any god or not. Most atheist will also act from their personal morals and ethics but they won't even think about the possibility of a god existing and I'd say that's what puts agnostics as the neutral party between theists and atheists.

About atheism as a set of belief:
I definitely understand why most atheists don't consider themselves believers even though believing in the lack of something is also a sort of belief. The problem is that most who consider themselves atheists are probably more sceptical agnostics than true atheists. I know it's all semantics and different views of definitions but then again that's what make Catholics and Protestants different as well.

I think where most atheists fall is that their default position is "no god exist unless proven otherwise" which is a flawed argument for someone basing their beliefs on reason. No scientist would claim that "this machine can't work because no one has proven it does" no they would probably take on a more agnostic approach and say either "That machine probably won't work but it might" or "that machine could very well work but I've seen no evidence of it yet". They might sound the same but they're different in the mindset of the person (even though the example might not be the best).

about love and justice:

I wouldn't qualify them as beliefs of themselves. A belief system might be based around either one or two of them (and most major religions are) however I'd say that the capability to love and feel a sence of justice and even the practise of these two of themselves does not qualify as beliefs because they're part of the human nature, it's how we're made. Some may choose to shun love and to spit on justice and some may choose to build their belief around the concepts but the capability to feel love and justice is part of who we are (and yes I'm well aware that psychopaths most often aren't able to feel love but then again not all humans are born with 10 toes so...)

about preaching your beliefs

The claim that atheists don't preach their beliefs is yust bull (imho). Many athiests argue with theists over how flawed their belief is and trying to make them see how wrong they are (I think that's what started this whole discussion). I'd say that this is the same as christians (or other theists) trying to convert people to their beliefs. Sure atheists may never have started wars to convert people but then again atheism is a fairly new thing and in the western, modernised world that is built more on global economics than on warring over territory there isn't much room for wars. At least not compared to before the industrialisation when most of the "crusades" took place

I think that will have to do for now. I'm too tired to write much more and this is probably already too much of a wall of text.
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Bezman
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caldazar wrote:

...
About atheism as a set of belief:
...
I think where most atheists fall is that their default position is "no god exist unless proven otherwise" which is a flawed argument for someone basing their beliefs on reason. No scientist would claim that "this machine can't work because no one has proven it does" no they would probably take on a more agnostic approach and say either "That machine probably won't work but it might" or "that machine could very well work but I've seen no evidence of it yet". They might sound the same but they're different in the mindset of the person (even though the example might not be the best).

That is a nice comparison, and I agree to it. However, I think you are missing out on one thing about "the machine";
For CENTURIES, even millenniums, "scientists" have been trying to get "the machine" to work, yet NONE have succeeded.
I read or heard somewhere (sorry for being so bad with sources, I'm just no good at remembering names - instead, I add a "likelyness" to a statement I just read, which is stored along with my memory of it) that 95% of earth's people confess to some religion. That's 95% of 7 billion, that EVERY day, to some degree, have been trying to get the machine to work. In earlier days, there were not as many people as today, but religion was a lot more important to them, so on average, I think I dare state that each person sought more actively than we do today.

Also, if anyone had found a way to get "the machine" to work, this would surely have been known to everyone by now.

Thus we stand here today, some 2000 years after the birth of the alleged son of God, but with nothing at all as proof of the existence of a God. All we have is a trace - a miraculously complex universe, which our minds and bodies cannot fully fathom. (And a few books, which cannot be proven to be anything else than man-made.)

Yet - some think that everyone should STILL cast all these years of failed attempts aside - ignore them - and personally travel the same path to reach (so far) the same negative results (meaning "zero evidence").

Why?
Question Arrow Question

And to add some sort of new fuel to the topic...
People of all times have loved believing in all sorts of things, like fairies, gnomes, creatures living underneath the ground/in swamps/in brooks or streams/forests/caves/trees/the mountains/underwater etc etc etc, supernatural beings traversing the skies in thundercarriages, and so on. Fishermen (in old movies at least Smile) are said to be extremely superstitious. Well, for them, a change of routines may mean the difference between life and death, and it may very well have been the same for others in times where life was tough.

I believe this is in the human nature (of at least some of us) - to try and find an external cause for things that we cannot explain. If we cannot find anything, we sometimes spawn a theory, which is tested and refined. Sometimes for good, sometimes for the fun of it, sometimes something really corny, like Cthulhu... Sometimes, we even find a speculation that works in more than one test, and we leave it standing.
Combining some of those speculations into a religion (and usually collecting it in some book, with a bunch of authors) explains everything about religion quite well for me.

Of course, that is not the whole truth about religion - I give some credit to its ability to give comfort(ation), advice on how to live your life, and a few more that I cannot think of right now. (I bet TFBW will fill me out on this one, if he's in the mood - he is quite good at finding the things I had in my mind but forgot again before I could write them down - thanks in advance if you do, my friend! Wink )
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Dutch84
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:17 am    Post subject: Youtube video that makes a point Reply with quote

I had a huge reponse typed out and then I closed the window by accident. ACK! :p

But as luck would have it, I found a Youtube vid from a guy who can say things far simpler and more eloquent than I could on a forum post.

Enjoy. Very Happy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWg1iFW3OwY&feature=channel_page
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TFBW
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

YouTube Guy wrote:
Why are you bothering to argue semantics?

Summary of the YouTube guy: "fussing over whether people are atheist or agnostic doesn't change anyone's views, so why bother fussing over it at all?"

Answer, in far less time and bandwidth than a YouTube video: because there's no way to argue with someone about their beliefs until they've made it clear what their beliefs actually are. This isn't just semantics: it's a matter of clear thinking. If your atheism or agnosticism is rationally grounded, then you should be quite clear as to which is your point of view. The difference is only an irrelevant matter of semantics to someone who is anti-Christian or anti-theist in general, and uses "atheist" or "agnostic" as an approximation of that position.

Sometimes "I'm an atheist" is just a way of saying "I hate Christians" or similar. When that's the case, there's no point arguing about the existence of God, because that isn't actually the issue. Such an "atheist" typically has a collection of reasons for not believing in God, but the reasons justify the position rather than being the basis for it. The YouTube guy strikes me as being that sort of "atheist": his "atheism" isn't a rational thing; he just has a really sour disposition towards theism.

YouTube Guy @ 1:33 wrote:
What, then? Do I convert to theism? No -- I would simply label myself an agnostic instead. However, have I changed in anything other than name? The answer is no. I will still feel the same way towards religion. I will still bear the same general sentiment towards the proposition of God's existence.

Indeed, when the underlying issue is an emotional one, making distinctions between "atheist" and "agnostic" really is missing the point.
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Dutch84
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually TFBW if you had watched all of his videos, you would see that he is a very rational person who addresses all forms of worship and faith, not just Christianity. You're making an assumption on ONE video that he is anti-theist, which is something else entirely.

Personally from this short dialogue we've exchanged I think that if anyone carries any sort of bias that affects their argument its you. You've accused me of carrying some sort of grudge against Christendom, when I regularly pointed OTHER religions in my arguments, you label atheism as some sort of blanket statement to anti-theism and anti-religion (Citing that Atheists apparently think that religion is all a bunch of hooey) to make strawman arguments, and you labelled the guy I just showed as some sort of anti-god spokesman based on ONE video.

I'd say more but I have to go to work. Smile Stay tuned.
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TFBW
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been fair: my comments are based on the exact words he says.

I'm not going to waste my time and bandwidth watching YouTube videos of some random atheist just so that I can satisfy you that I'm not biased. In fact, I'll readily admit that I'm biased: I'm a Christian, and therefore predisposed to theism. Go ahead and dismiss everything I say because I'm biased if you want: it's much easier than actually addressing the content of my arguments, and will save you a lot of critical thinking.
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TFBW
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bezman wrote:
For CENTURIES, even millenniums, "scientists" have been trying to get "the machine" to work, yet NONE have succeeded.

That judgement depends on what you expect "the machine" to do. You're looking for some kind of proof of something, and consider religion to be broken because it hasn't provided that. It never will. Philosophy, not religion, is the field that has been actively trying to prove something about the fundamental nature of things, and it has yet to succeed. All the various religions, right or wrong, aren't even attempting to produce that which you expect of them. Give them an "F" if you want to, but I think you're making a category error.

Bezman wrote:
Thus we stand here today, some 2000 years after the birth of the alleged son of God, but with nothing at all as proof of the existence of a God. All we have is a trace - a miraculously complex universe, which our minds and bodies cannot fully fathom. (And a few books, which cannot be proven to be anything else than man-made.)

Even Jesus didn't feel it was part of his job to prove the existence of God or the authenticity of scripture. He took those things for granted. Mind you, he was born into a culture where it was possible to do so.

Bezman wrote:
Of course, that is not the whole truth about religion - I give some credit to its ability to give comfort(ation), advice on how to live your life, and a few more that I cannot think of right now.

Religion in general? I really wouldn't know how to defend it without assuming some set of values, and if I assume some set of values then I've adopted a specific religious stance that won't judge all religions equally and fairly. To attempt to give some credit to religion in general is simply to say, "religion has some effects which I consider positive, despite the fact that its fundamental premises are flawed" -- a fundamentally subjective analysis, or matter of opinion.

I have rather extreme demands on religion. I don't particularly want a proof of something, I want what Christianity claims to deliver: the means to be reconciled with God and live with him forever in heaven. If it doesn't achieve this aim, then I rank it Fail. Whatever other nice side effects it might have are irrelevant to me. Only time will tell whether I've backed the right horse, of course. I don't have proof, but I'm satisfied with the evidence.
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Caldazar
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I want what Christianity claims to deliver: the means to be reconciled with God and live with him forever in heaven. If it doesn't achieve this aim, then I rank it Fail. Whatever other nice side effects it might have are irrelevant to me. Only time will tell whether I've backed the right horse, of course. I don't have proof, but I'm satisfied with the evidence.


this is why I consider myself an agnostic mostly. If I've lived a good life and shown through actions rather than belief that I'm a good person wouldn't a true god take me into his heaven even if I haven't paid lip-service to him, even if I have never in my mind believed in him directly? I consider the existence of god plausible and if he does exist I don't think he will really care whether you confess yourself to Islam, Christianity or in Anoia- The goddess for things that gets stuck in the drawer. I think god if he does exist would care more about the life you lived than about the religion you confess to (if he isn't a really vain god that is).

Now I'm not saying that religion or belief in god is wrong in any way because it brings along a lot of positive things like Bezman stated and I understand that people have a need to believe in things to have something that explains their existent and the complexity of this universe we live in. Anyone who has ever been out in the wilds on a cloudless night and looked up to the sky with all the stars shining brightly must have at least once considered that something greater than mere coincidence and science must be behind something as magnificent as that.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TFBW
I didn't expect you to look at all of his work, but you're still grasping at a blanket statement to satisfy your views.
And I'm not dismissing everything you're saying. I'm carefully considering everything you're saying, and responding accordingly. I brought that video into the equation as a means to clarify a question I had. Again you were the one who went on the offensive and blasted his view based on personal bias.
I have bias only when it comes to religions that oppress and dominate and allow their faith to do it; like with gay marriage for example. I don't spit on Wiccans because they don't actively seek to oppress others beliefs.

But to me, your argument is a poor argument. I'm sorry but if the purpose of your argument is to convince people that Atheism espouses anti-theism and anti-religious sentiments, I remain unconvinced. Your arguments don't succeed to me because:

Its all hearsay.
No sources to back what you say.
Logical fallacies (strawman arguments, Ad-hominems)
Bias that colours your motivations for making the arguments (making anti-atheist generalisations).

My whole premise from the very beginning was to establish that there is no Atheist framework, because I found your argument not compelling. As it is, you still haven't established what this so called 'framework' that Atheists operate is. The burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim.

Atheists comprise of a myriad of various beliefs, both political and philosophical, none of which are arguably narrowed down to deliberately anti-theist sentiments. You have atheists who swing to the left and right politcally, there are objectivists, secularists and humanists and anarchists, nihilists, and libertarians etc. There is no set framework.

You've admitted you're a Christian, so what does that mean about your belief in Allah for example? Or Thor? Or Marduk? What is your belief in them? I just take it one step further: I don't believe in ANY of them, including the Christian God Yahweh.

And where do religions that lack a deity play into this framework?
Like the: Raelians, Buddhists (the factions who worship the philosopher), the Scientologists, the Wiccans, etc

Don't get me wrong. My goal is not to cause unnecessary friction. I'm also aware that having an argument over the internet is like spitting into a river. All I am seeking is maybe to clarify something that has been misinterpreted and I feel has been pushed for wrong reasons. All I sought was to clarify things from the horses mouth.

You may disagree with me entirely and I respect that. But that's all part of having an argument.
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tuxedobob
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dutch84 wrote:
The burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim.


And this is why these arguments are utterly pointless. Every religious debate in existence goes like this:

Athiest: I call null hypothesis. You now have to prove to me that God exists.
Christian: Well, this, this, and this.
Athiest: That's not proof. I win.
OR
Athiest: Your sources are unreliable. I win.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:57 pm    Post subject: What's the alternative? Reply with quote

Bob, you're partially correct on that part. Believe me, I'm trying to start to verbal slangfest here.

But two things: You missed the point of what I was trying to say. TFBW was staking the claim that Atheism has a belief structure and a set framework: I asking what that is, as to me that is the crux of his argument in regards to those who don't believe in a deity (not just referring to Yahweh).

Secondly, you make a good point there in that its risky to open the floor to such diatribes. But how else does one go about proving things? Atheists don't just put up a brick wall simply because we don't consider it proof or we don't like it. We are not convinced because the evidence doesn't hold up. Subjective stories and personal ideas about any deity are unreliable because they don't withstand counterclaims.
Theists can make the same claims about Yahweh as they do about Vishnu or Allah. Who is right?
I can't see gravity, but it can be measured, tested and quantified. I believe in gravity because the evidence matches the claims.

Its not about winning. If it was, both sides would come out the losers. But if Theists want to convert Atheists (or secularists or humanists or any group that fits the base description) they have to prove God, whichever god that may be. And so we end up back where we started.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dutch84 wrote:
Atheists comprise of a myriad of various beliefs, both political and philosophical, none of which are arguably narrowed down to deliberately anti-theist sentiments. You have atheists who swing to the left and right politcally, there are objectivists, secularists and humanists and anarchists, nihilists, and libertarians etc. There is no set framework.

I agree. The only thing they have in common is assent to the proposition "there is no God".
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a quick note.

I'm probably stating the obvious, but I am NOT trying to start a verbal slangfest, despite whats in my previous post. That was a typo.

My bad. Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TFBW wrote:
Dutch84 wrote:
Atheists comprise of a myriad of various beliefs, both political and philosophical, none of which are arguably narrowed down to deliberately anti-theist sentiments. You have atheists who swing to the left and right politcally, there are objectivists, secularists and humanists and anarchists, nihilists, and libertarians etc. There is no set framework.

I agree. The only thing they have in common is assent to the proposition "there is no God".

That, and they all make decisions based on morals of their own choosing.

Being free of religion also means being free of any moral constraints. Without an absolute constant by which to judge your actions there is no "Right" or "Wrong", everything is subjective.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tempest_D wrote:
Being free of religion also means being free of any moral constraints. Without an absolute constant by which to judge your actions there is no "Right" or "Wrong", everything is subjective.

Not necessarily. I've known at least one person who, if not a strict atheist, described himself as non-religious, and yet he was a strict moral realist. He was of the opinion that if there were a God, then that God would be subject to the same reality of right and wrong as the rest of us: it would not be possible for God to alter moral reality.

I will concede that all atheists have a non-theistic morality, of course. This is part of what I mean when I talk about "atheist lifestyle": the term doesn't imply much, but atheism has inevitable consequences for other aspects of life. For instance, an atheist's morality must be non-theistic, his sense of human worth must be non-theistic, his notion of "purpose" must be non-theistic, and so on.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TFBW wrote:
Not necessarily. I've known at least one person who, if not a strict atheist, described himself as non-religious, and yet he was a strict moral realist. He was of the opinion that if there were a God, then that God would be subject to the same reality of right and wrong as the rest of us: it would not be possible for God to alter moral reality.

Sound like would believe the first half of Socrates's, "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious? Or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?"

Though it begs the questions; How did he detrmine what the "same reality of right and wrong as the rest of us" is?

And will his beliefs of what is right and wrong remain constant despite his own physical and mental condition?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He doesn't claim to have perfect knowledge of morality, nor does he claim to have a constant view of it. His claim is that morality is a reality independent of our beliefs, just as the laws of physics are real and independent of our attempts to formulate them. We can have moral theories, just as we have scientific theories, and these theories will be right or wrong depending on how accurately they describe the moral facts.

The interesting question, in my opinion, is "what sort of thing is this moral reality?" It is not like a fact of physics which dictates how things are -- rather it dictates how things ought to be. This raises a question as to the actual significance of moral rights and wrongs. If a thing is a moral wrong, then so what? Even if it is a real classification, does it have any significance? Should we prefer moral rights to moral wrongs? If so, on what basis? I may find that certain moral wrongs are beneficial to me, such as if I get away with stealing something. Morality presents itself as normative, but why ought I be directed by it? Why shouldn't I be an amoral moral realist -- accepting that "right" and "wrong" are real classifications, but only in the same way that "heavy" and "light" or "hot" and "cold" are? Is hot water better than cold water? It depends what you want!
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:34 am    Post subject: Morals are subjective Reply with quote

Ah, but then you would need to consider that morality IS subjective. It is a concept that is not static; it changes with time, history and events that affect various societies.

Consider the rules imparted in the Bible. Throughout history, slavery, heresy and acts that in this day and age we would consider evil, were justified through the use and exploitation of a person's faith (Witch-burning, bigotry etc). Anti-semitism was common amongst many in Europe right up until the end of WWII when it became apparent what the Nazis had done.

Consider as another example the Stolen Generation. At the time of the White Australia Policy, taking aboriginal children from their homes to raise them in Missionary schools was considered the right thing to do. Nowadays many consider it abhorent, regardless of what your beliefs are.

Morals are not something that I would call 'theistic' or 'non-theistic'. Atheists don't go around actively not beleiving in deities, so that that non-belief directly affects their moral values. If morals were objective, they would be objective across the entire world, thats the definition of objectivity: without personal bias or opinion.

BUT (and this is not an attack on the faithful) various faiths DO have rules in their holy books that do affect their moral judgement, because these rules are the words of their respective gods. Christians and Islam have rules against homosexuality and treatment of women, Judaism has rules on how to treat animals before slaughter, the Jains have strict anti-violence against ANYTHING (they carry brooms to sweep away insects from their paths) etc.

That being said, I would wager that many Christians (only using Christians as an example Very Happy ) disavow the more violent and cruel tenets of the Bible and don't practice them; another example of subjective morality.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the moderation facilities on this forum software would allow me to transplant these last few comments into the Moral Philosophy topic, I would do so. Unfortunately, I can't: I'd have to start a new topic. Perhaps we could shift this discussion of morality over there, should anyone wish to continue it.

Dutch84, you will find that there is already at least one post in that topic which addresses your point. Feel free to raise it again there if you aren't satisfied with the answers there.

Of course, the subject here is "religion" (a very general thing), and it's fair enough to bring moral philosophy into the discussion, but let's try to keep a little organised.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject: Fair enough Reply with quote

Fair enough. The topic was just veering into that alley so I just went with it.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One last thing on morality & religion.

The point is that if there is a God then there are a definite set of morals based on what the God says is Right and Wrong reguardless of how they are interpreted.

Part of Faith is to (try) and live by the moral code of your chosen God.

An Athiest does not follow a God therefore must define their own morals.

An Athiest who follows a moral code outside of themselves is really an undefined Theist.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tempest_D wrote:
The point is that if there is a God then there are a definite set of morals based on what the God says is Right and Wrong reguardless of how they are interpreted.

Only if you grant that God has the power to define morality, and not everyone grants that. I think that God's character is the absolute moral frame of reference against which things are judged good or evil. God is not "good" in the sense of "well behaved", but "good" in a more fundamental, essential sense. I'm willing to let others claim otherwise, though, and I will challenge their models of morality just like Socrates challenged Euthyphro with the dilemma you mentioned earlier.

Tempest_D wrote:
An Athiest who follows a moral code outside of themselves is really an undefined Theist.

Well, let's say that an atheist who is a moral absolutist verges on deism, if not theism. An absolute moral frame does substitute for a deity in many ways, but the result is an impersonal god -- a force, a thing, a law.
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