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Author Topic: Why I am an athiest  (Read 8586 times)

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Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Why I am an athiest
« on: April 26, 2014, 08:53:57 PM »
I am going to start this off with saying that I don't hate any religion in itself...I don't mean any disrespect to any one who holds beliefs in what ever god they believe in and this is just my personal experiences. The reason I am angry is I was out the other day and I was walking through the park in the up town area of my city. There was a church group there passing out fliers and such. I was just trying to come home from taking my step son home(we get him on weekends) and one of these people came up to me and offered to speak to me about Jesus and gods love. I turned them down politely stating I am an atheist  and started to walk away when the man growled I was going to hell. I spun around and glared at him telling him"If I can respect the fact that you believe in god...You respect the fact I don't and back off." He seemed sort of scared of me at this point but I have been told I have a fairly scary glare.

I was raised catholic. I grew up hearing about Jesus and Mary and all the saints. And I admit they are sort of interesting..the angels falling...some of the saints stories are kind of cool as well. I was never made to go to Sunday school..I also didn't have to go to church and my parents accepted the fact I did not want to be confirmed. There was a baptist church up the hill from where I grew up and we would go to a weekly young peoples group called joy club. My parents thought it was good for us to see how other religions work and I was not a very good little faithful person. I asked questions....a lot of them...like with how many different species in the world how did they all fit on the arc? How did adam and eve make all the people in the world? Is that why dinosaurs went extinct because they did not get on the arc? Why did god not talk to people himself if he was so powerful?  And I was told in each and every instance that my parents were not asked..You have to have faith. My parents would say go to the library and look things up. And because of this I have had a life long love of books and learning. And I love my parents for it.

I also have a problem with the catholic church condoning until recently child abuse simply shuffling the priests around. The tax breaks churches get as well as its seeming hatred of any one who does not believe in what they do. I am an atheist..not a Nazi or a cannibal. I am not a bad person..I am not evil...I just choose to believe in things that can be proven. Atheism is not a religion to me. Science is awesome...science can be proven and if the world ended and we had to do it all over again with no memory of things past...science would be the same. We might get there in a different way but..it would in the end be the same. Would god?

I have very good friends who are Christian(I play D&D with them every Sunday)...I have a friend who is a Muslim( a lovely young woman I used to work with at a call centre) as well as I recently went to a wedding of a beautiful woman who happened to be born a man who married a man. And they are very very happy.I have gay friends(two of which are a couple which are gay men who have been devoted to each other for 15 years of marriage)...I have other atheists who are friends.And even a few Wiccans(who by the way no they do not dance naked in the woods and try to curse people) You will have to forgive me if I am not willing to believe that the Muslim,gay,Wiccan,atheist and trans woman friends I have are going to hell because they don't believe the right things or they simply want to be the right gender...or love who they love. They are all wonderful sweet caring and still human people who love and are sad just as any Christian types.

I have a problem with religions that are supposed to promote peace and love and instead are used to promote hatred and anger towards anyone different. I feel badly for these groups because some are seen as zealots..The so called Christians that believe in gods love the right to life and blow up abortion clinics. The Muslims that say they will kill in the name of Allah and the people who spout that they are so much better than anyone because they believe in the"right." god. There's nothing wrong with having faith...there's nothing wrong with wanting to do "gods" work. And the catholic church finally has a pope that does not make me want to cringe at the fact I was once one of them. I fully believe "Religion is a lot like a penis. It's all very good to have one but don't wave it around in public and please don't try to force it down my children's throats."

So I sometimes wish I was less cynical and not needing proof of things..but other times I am happy that I am not blinded by faith with things as well. I am sorry if this offends anyone but honestly this is my opinion and I am not looking to be turned to Jesus. He sounds like a great guy and awesome ideas. Love your neighbour and treat people kindly.But I don't see why I can't simply do these things because its the right thing to do..Not because some creator who watches everything I do (anyone else a little weirded out by this?)says so. If god is real in my opinion he needs to stop worrying about gay people getting married and appearing on grilled cheese sandwiches and worry about why people keep killing in his name and hating any one who is different. 

Well I am done..I am off to make a grilled cheese sandwich now..who knows..maybe Jesus will decide to make his presence known and if not...I still have a delicious snack so go me.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 09:15:25 PM »
Offers a hug.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2014, 06:49:13 AM »
"[Atheism is] not even my hobby. That's the great thing about atheism, it takes up so little of your time." -- Bill Maher

Like you, I was raised Catholic. I am philosophically at odds with a large number of my family members, because they are anti-divorce, anti-abortion (or rather anti-choice), anti-gay marriage (even though we have it), anti-freethink. I think that they have a number of lovely ideas -- the thought of heaven is a very comforting one, after all -- but they just don't understand why I risked my kids souls by not baptising them, why I don't go to church, why I think that whatever other people do in the privacy of their homes is none of my fucking business.

They still claim I'm Catholic, because I haven't been ex-communicated.

They hate Pope Francis, because he's an Antichrist. I love the man.

I don't get them, and they don't get me. We love each other, but ideologically, we're at such polar ends, I wonder how I came from these people.

Offline Mathim

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2014, 02:38:23 PM »
I am going to start this off with saying that I don't hate any religion in itself...I don't mean any disrespect to any one who holds beliefs in what ever god they believe in and this is just my personal experiences. The reason I am angry is I was out the other day and I was walking through the park in the up town area of my city. There was a church group there passing out fliers and such. I was just trying to come home from taking my step son home(we get him on weekends) and one of these people came up to me and offered to speak to me about Jesus and gods love. I turned them down politely stating I am an atheist  and started to walk away when the man growled I was going to hell. I spun around and glared at him telling him"If I can respect the fact that you believe in god...You respect the fact I don't and back off." He seemed sort of scared of me at this point but I have been told I have a fairly scary glare.

I was raised catholic. I grew up hearing about Jesus and Mary and all the saints. And I admit they are sort of interesting..the angels falling...some of the saints stories are kind of cool as well. I was never made to go to Sunday school..I also didn't have to go to church and my parents accepted the fact I did not want to be confirmed. There was a baptist church up the hill from where I grew up and we would go to a weekly young peoples group called joy club. My parents thought it was good for us to see how other religions work and I was not a very good little faithful person. I asked questions....a lot of them...like with how many different species in the world how did they all fit on the arc? How did adam and eve make all the people in the world? Is that why dinosaurs went extinct because they did not get on the arc? Why did god not talk to people himself if he was so powerful?  And I was told in each and every instance that my parents were not asked..You have to have faith. My parents would say go to the library and look things up. And because of this I have had a life long love of books and learning. And I love my parents for it.

I also have a problem with the catholic church condoning until recently child abuse simply shuffling the priests around. The tax breaks churches get as well as its seeming hatred of any one who does not believe in what they do. I am an atheist..not a Nazi or a cannibal. I am not a bad person..I am not evil...I just choose to believe in things that can be proven. Atheism is not a religion to me. Science is awesome...science can be proven and if the world ended and we had to do it all over again with no memory of things past...science would be the same. We might get there in a different way but..it would in the end be the same. Would god?

I have very good friends who are Christian(I play D&D with them every Sunday)...I have a friend who is a Muslim( a lovely young woman I used to work with at a call centre) as well as I recently went to a wedding of a beautiful woman who happened to be born a man who married a man. And they are very very happy.I have gay friends(two of which are a couple which are gay men who have been devoted to each other for 15 years of marriage)...I have other atheists who are friends.And even a few Wiccans(who by the way no they do not dance naked in the woods and try to curse people) You will have to forgive me if I am not willing to believe that the Muslim,gay,Wiccan,atheist and trans woman friends I have are going to hell because they don't believe the right things or they simply want to be the right gender...or love who they love. They are all wonderful sweet caring and still human people who love and are sad just as any Christian types.

I have a problem with religions that are supposed to promote peace and love and instead are used to promote hatred and anger towards anyone different. I feel badly for these groups because some are seen as zealots..The so called Christians that believe in gods love the right to life and blow up abortion clinics. The Muslims that say they will kill in the name of Allah and the people who spout that they are so much better than anyone because they believe in the"right." god. There's nothing wrong with having faith...there's nothing wrong with wanting to do "gods" work. And the catholic church finally has a pope that does not make me want to cringe at the fact I was once one of them. I fully believe "Religion is a lot like a penis. It's all very good to have one but don't wave it around in public and please don't try to force it down my children's throats."

So I sometimes wish I was less cynical and not needing proof of things..but other times I am happy that I am not blinded by faith with things as well. I am sorry if this offends anyone but honestly this is my opinion and I am not looking to be turned to Jesus. He sounds like a great guy and awesome ideas. Love your neighbour and treat people kindly.But I don't see why I can't simply do these things because its the right thing to do..Not because some creator who watches everything I do (anyone else a little weirded out by this?)says so. If god is real in my opinion he needs to stop worrying about gay people getting married and appearing on grilled cheese sandwiches and worry about why people keep killing in his name and hating any one who is different. 

Well I am done..I am off to make a grilled cheese sandwich now..who knows..maybe Jesus will decide to make his presence known and if not...I still have a delicious snack so go me.

You have to understand that if you really look at these faiths critically, you will see that the gods of these religions are NOT kind and loving (and terribly inconsistent) nor do they wish for you to be. This is a pervasive illusion that can be demonstrated to be false repeatedly and in every possible way and yet a believer will completely dismiss them because dogma teaches them that evidence is worthless in the face of faith. Once you let go of these false attributes of religion you can be perfectly free not to respect them and not be so naive as to have ever expected them to give any in return. If ever there was a true definition of hypocrisy, it is the human interpretation of religion.

Don't ever second-guess your critical thinking faculties as being wrong, that's exactly what they want and it's exactly the open wound into which these ideologies creep in and multiply like bacteria. The answer to the question of whether it's right or wrong to believe in something without evidence is so obvious it hardly needs to be stated. If you receive no satisfactory answers from your religious peers or clergy then that just goes to show you that even faith can't provide all the answers it claims to. If someone shouts at you on the street that you're going to hell because you're an atheist it just proves that you're the morally superior person (ironic given how often religion is purported to be the supreme authority on morality) for not attacking them in return simply out of anger.

If you want more information I can recommend a lot of books disproving just about every claim religions make about life, the universe and everything.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2014, 02:45:38 PM by Mathim »

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2014, 03:04:09 PM »
MasterMischief- accepts the hug"Thank you."

Rhapsody- I have the same thing with my parents and some friends. I am not religious and they are. I love them but while I ask people not to shove their religion in my face I respect their right to not believe in what I do.So my friends and family that are religious we just talk about other things and when someone tells me I will pray for you. I simply say thank you...they mean it as a nice thing with good intentions...and that's how I will take it..although the ones who tell me I am going to hell I take it about as seriously as someone telling me I am walking into mordor.You love your family but sometimes you just sort of shake your head.

Mathium- I agree that god is not loving and snuggly and handing out snow cones. But some people do use religion as a reason to hate and be an asshole. And me personally I think that a lot of good intentions and prayers would be better served by actually doing something.But this also falls under my annoyance of people who think putting cartoon characters as their avatar photos on face book will stop people from abusing their children. Some people hold their beliefs quietly and don't throw them on people. Its the in your face screaming at the tops of their lungs..oh you bet I will gleefully tell them how silly I think they are believing in their magical sky wizard. I am often mistaken for a pentecostal. I have long hair and I like long skirts.The ones who keep their beliefs to themselves or only mention them in passing..I am not going to be angry at. The loud obnoxious ones..those on the other hand oh you best your sweet ass I will be just as obnoxious and loud as them. Its not God I have a problem with its his fan club.I basically give what I am getting. I don't throw my atheism in peoples faces..if they ask or it comes up I will say so..and if someone tells me I am going to hell..I will go on a Denis Leary like rant about how the magical man in the clouds who watches everything we do like a giant cosmic voyeur who has a zombie for a son who is his own father got stuck up on a stick and died for my sins that have not even happened yet. And all this came about because the rib lady ate the apple the talking snake told her to.And I am going to hell because I am a good person because its the right thing to do not because an invisible cosmic daddy will ground me for not believing in him..Yeah..trust me I have it in me to think they are puzts. I get what your saying totally.But hating someone for believing in god is the same for them hating me for not believing. I have to admit at times I wish I could be as happy as some of them are...there is a certain charm in being happy and knowing everything will be ok in the end..

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2014, 04:50:45 PM »
I am a Christian who has recently been made to see a handful of things that I didn't like, considering that they didn't really conform with my idea of the world, how it came to be, where it's going, etc, but for some reason, I remained a Christian. It took me a little while to rationalize this. Several of the building blocks of my faith were crushed to powder and here I am, still teetering on the very edge.

I slowly saw that what kept me believing in God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost (Who, for some reason to me seemed more like a female persona than a male), creation, etc, because I loved the illusion of it. I have had a handful of hard times in my life where that illusion kept me afloat, kept me from doing bad things, kept me the jolly and only slightly insane person that I am. I guess you could saw that I am blind to the facts by choice. If you wanna convince me that what I believe is wrong, I have been trying to know that I am wrong, smile and maybe grin a bit and say," Look bro (or sis): I know you're right, I know that you have all the facts straight and all I have is some weird conjecture and faith, but I like how I see the world. I like thinking that there's some big huge deity up there that is just and righteous, and I like that he loved us so much to send his son down here to become undead in about as painful a way as there was back then to save us from eternal damnation. Gives you a feeling that you are a part of something bigger than just 'Wake up. Go to work. Make some dough. Party. Repeat.'"

Now, if I have children, I intend to send them to a Catholic School, not out of any faith of my own but because they simply are the best schools in this here country. If I move elsewhere, I intend to have my tykes going to the best schools there too. I have a handful of homosexual friends of both genders, and when their folks and family gave them shit, I'll admit that I wasn't there to tell said folks and family to go ahead and do unto themselves some things that are anatomically impossible all the time, even though I got to do so a couple of times, I know that it's rough for them, especially here in Brasil where it's less of a religious thing and more of a well... machismo item.

As you say, Thesunmaid, give as good as you get. You can be an asshole whether you are Catholic or non-religious, and by being an asshole you allow the people around you to treat you as such. Don't like what I believe? Whatever, hey do you like sports?(Not that too? Writing? Movies?) What you believe doesn't define the kind of person that you are, for better or for worse. I will try not to let it influence how I see you so long as you extend me the same courtesy.

So, Thesunmaid, I extend an apology on behalf of my fellow Christians who are assholes. They deserve to go to whatever hell there is. not you. I say that knowing that I was that guy once, and I am ashamed that I drove good friends away because of it.

Online Blythe

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2014, 09:44:23 PM »
For me, atheism was a complex choice. It started out as a tacit rejection of the religion of the majority of my family, most of which were various denominations of Christianity. I was angry for a long time, felt very betrayed by Christianity for what I felt was a failure to uphold what I felt should have been the most important tenets of a religion: peace and love. Now, not every Christian church I've encountered in my life has been bad or corrupt, either. Not every Christian I've encountered has been a bad one. But I became slowly disillusioned as a teen regarding what that particular faith would offer me. It...offered me nothing.

So I left it (not without some arguments and tears with my mother and sister and extended family).

I'm not sure I can claim to have been truly part of it; my mother sent me to church when I was very young, a bit too young to properly understand what I was even doing there. I just knew that a bus would come pick me up on Sundays, there was singing, and Sunday school where I was usually required to write out Bible verse in silence, and then we would be brought to the main sermon, which as a child, felt like it consisted of a lot of yelling and a lot of mentions of fire. So I don't think I can rightly claim to have been a Christian when I highly doubt I'd had the capacity at the time to understand what was meant by a higher power. As a child, I didn't really get what sin meant, either.

I got a little older. I hovered as an agnostic for a time as I looked into other belief systems, none of which I was able to make a vital connection to, although there were many I still find that teach lovely things.....except there was always one very important aspect of religion I never grasped, never managed to reach.

I could never grasp the concept of faith, the idea that I should trust without evidence.

It was a short route to atheism afterward, and I've been an atheist for years now. I'm honestly not sure if I'll always be an atheist, either. I certainly didn't start as one. How and if I choose to believe anything seems to have always been a long and tiring search, but I like to think that it's human to keep asking questions.

Interesting topic. Made me reflect a little about myself. Thanks for posting, thesunmaid.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2014, 04:09:10 AM »
I am an Atheist, and when it comes to social matters, I'm an Anti-theist. I am of the opinion that the ideas and dogma behind Religion are outdated customs, but the institutions that hold them are destructive to society, perpetuating and celebrating ignorance. They need to be phased out, and they will only go when the standards for life, medicine, education and happiness raise.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2014, 04:23:24 AM »
Coming from the other end of the stick, I was not raised to any particular denomination, though my parents were expected by their families to raise me to be a Catholic. Their reasons are their own and although I have never been baptised, nor taken communion, nor confirmed, I have for several years identified as a catholic.

When I was 18, I set foot in a church for the first time since I was in kindergarten (my parents weren't too impressed with the local 'public' kindergarten so they sent me to one run by the local Lutheran church, but that's another story).

I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect and expected Hellfire and Brimstone. However, I found the opposite. I spoke to the priest, explaining that I hadn't set foot in a church since I was quite young. My heart sank when he asked if I had been baptised, but I decided to be honest. No, I hadn't been, I told him. My parents took the oath of Baptism very seriously and wanted to make sure I was taking it myself, with full understanding of what it meant, and because I wanted to, not because any nasty relatives said I should.

To my immense relief (and pleasant surprise) the priest smiled, and told me many parents within his congregation had made similar choices, and with a friendly smile told me if I sat in the back and copied everyone else, no one would know the difference.

And so I did. And I found myself welcomed with open arms, and invited to take part in choir and readings even though I still hadn't agreed to be baptised!

As the years have progressed since that fateful Mass, I find myself more and more eager to formally convert to the Catholic faith, even though I disagree with some of the teachings. Even after moving an hour's drive away, I still attend Mass at that same church every chance I can.

However, I still get angry at people from both sides who see it as their right to condemn others simply because of a difference of faith. In the city shopping precincts here, it used to be impossible to shop without being accosted by 'street preachers'. I still recall the look on the face of one particular man, who, despite not knowing me or anything about me, proceeded to lecture me about my relationship with God. I told him, in annoyed tones, that my relationship with God was not any of his business. When he told me such comments would condemn me to Hell, I replied sarcastically that by his doctrine I was going to Hell anyway, because I hadn't been baptised.

And it can hurt the other way, too. The former Mr Ladia (yep, the one featured in my post about breaking up over text message) identified as agnostic. Like me, he claimed to believe that no one has the right to judge another based on their religious beliefs. Despite this, during one recent discussion in which we were trying to organise the disposal of certain mutually-owned property, he rather nastily referred to God as my 'imaginary friend'.

There are good people who are either religious or non-religious, but sadly, there are those who use their faith or lack thereof to pass harsh and sometimes hurtful judgement on others.

Offline Florence

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2014, 03:13:18 PM »
Disclaimer: My posts contain my own personal opinions and are not meant to offend. I understand that some people are religious on here, and I 100% completely respect your right to your own opinions and beliefs. That said, this is how I view things:

Also raised Catholic. Funny how many Atheists were raised Catholic.

... why, its almost like there's something hard to believe about Catholicism. ;)

I personally think the entire concept of "faith" as a positive is counter-intuitive to the entirety of human nature. We're clever and curious little buggers, so it hardly makes sense to treat blind obedience as a positive and thoughtful skepticism as a sin. There, really, is my problem with religion as a whole. Anything that tells me "Oh hey, don't think about it too hard, just believe what I'm saying", sort of sends red flags for me... like 'hey, I think this MIGHT be a scam'.

It's just all too... convenient. What? Eternal life and bliss in the kingdom of heaven? All I have to do is blindly accept everything you tell me, never question what you say, and donate money to your organization? Oh, and of course, you have no actual proof of any of this? Oh, yes, this sounds incredibly reasonable. Oh, and you don't want to pay taxes? Certainly.

I also find it bizarre and confusing how whether or not you receive the CORRECT religion, and thus avoid going to hell (or whatever happens to non-believers in your particular faith), seems largely to be based on geography. Born in Saudia Arabia? Islam is clearly and obviously the one true religion. India? Hinduism, of course. Peru? Catholicism is obviously the right answer. If you're born in Iceland, then Lutheranism is the clear and obvious truth. You would think if there was an all-powerful deity out there, their religion would be nigh-universal, right?

Of course, the simple fact that religions widely seem to be fairly critical of scientific thought is another red flag. After all, the true word of God should be able to stand up to a little scrutiny, don't you think?

I also have to deal with religious family. Oddly, though, I admit, none of mine really fit too terribly into the stereotypes... except perhaps my mother. On one hand, I have my Catholic grandmother, who I love and adore and is absolutely one of the most wonderful people in the planet. Like... she embodies everything GOOD that can come from religion. She believes in love and kindness towards your fellow man and doesn't buy into all the hateful garbage spouted by others. I even heard her talking to my mother once, and my grandmother said quite clearly that she supports gay marriage.

My Aunt is a strange example to me. I love her too, don't get me wrong, she's always been amazing to me. It just baffles me that she is a lesbian, with a wife, who is strongly religious. I know that religious people come in all shapes and colors, but I just find it confusing why one would so strongly adhere to a faith that's so commonly used to deny your rights. I'm sure there are gay people on here who are religious too, its just a strange concept to me.

My mother... eeeeeh... I mean... she's my mother. She's always done great by me, raised me the best she could, and alone at that, since my dad was never really... well... much of a dad. But she's just... stupidly religious, that's the best way I can put it. She gets along great with her sister (my previously mentioned Aunt), so... its not like she's... bigoted and hateful or anything. But she just has this ridiculously old-timesy way of looking at certain things. She ALWAYS seems to mention someone's race, regardless of its relevance to the story she's telling, she regularly (especially after drinking) makes a point to inform me that the Muslim terrorists are coming to take away our freedom, she thinks teaching kids that gay people are normal human beings is some form of indoctrination (ignoring the fact that she tried to have me indoctrinated into Christianity), and so on.

Like Blythe, I honestly don't really know if I would ever have considered myself 'part of' that religion. I was raised Catholic, but I pretty much rejected that from the moment my critical thinking skills were fully developed enough for me to realize all the errors and holes in what I was being told. I also considered myself agnostic for a while, until I realized that how I felt was more in line with atheism than agnosticism.

As I've said, I don't judge people based on their religion. The family members I mentioned above I love dearly, despite ideological disagreements I may have with some of them. I personally identify not just an Atheist, but as a Buddhist. I find many of the teachings of Buddhism do not require faith in anything supernatural, and many of them I personally find to be very logical and intuitive. I do not believe in the Buddha as some divine being, but I do believe that he was a wonderfully wise teacher, far ahead of his time. I believe strongly in a secular interpretation of his teachings, and I find that trying to incorporate them into my daily life has had an overall positive effect on my well-being. Granted... I'm not a monk, I still drink and have fun and all that other distracting stuff that is typically frowned upon for monks. :P

At any rate, Buddhism does have a lot to say about simply accepting the world for what it is, and I think a part of that is accepting others for who they are. Even if someone else has different beliefs than me, if they're a good person, they're a good person. Likewise there are other Atheists who are right pricks.

I really do love that quote, by the way. "Religion is like having a penis..." Pretty much sums up my feelings on that matter.

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2014, 03:38:24 PM »
I was raised, and currently still am Hindu, there are literally hundreds of interpretations.  I believe that god is simply the energy of life, a reservoir of the life spirit of every living being that resides within all of us.  At the top of the temple Sabarimala in India, there's an inscription with translates to "god" saying, "I am you."

I don't question my faith all that much, I believe in god.  When I am at my lowest points in life, or feeling sad, I simply close my eyes and pray/meditate, and tap into this rich energy of our existence.  It brings me peace and comfort, and helps me to realize that I am simply a tiny piece of this large universe.

If atheism brings someone peace, that is all that should matter.  It is for each person to decide what brings them peace.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2014, 08:46:05 PM »
If atheism brings someone peace, that is all that should matter.  It is for each person to decide what brings them peace.

That's not what Atheism is for. It's not a mindset, or even a set of beliefs. It's merely a single stance on a single question. "I'm skeptical of God" is the ONLY position held by Atheism. That's it. It really does frustrate me when people try to treat it as if it's just one of the many varieties of belief out there. I get that people want to go "To each his own" on the matter, but it's a faulty sentiment. It would be like "Oh, some people drive a Lexus, some people drive a Chrystler, and some people don't like driving, we all have our own preference in cars" See how that doesn't work?

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2014, 08:52:09 PM »
Sorry, I did not mean to imply anything.  I only meant that these types of issues are a personal decision.

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2014, 08:59:07 PM »
I am an Atheist, and when it comes to social matters, I'm an Anti-theist. I am of the opinion that the ideas and dogma behind Religion are outdated customs, but the institutions that hold them are destructive to society, perpetuating and celebrating ignorance. They need to be phased out, and they will only go when the standards for life, medicine, education and happiness raise.
You misunderstand the concept of faith and the place that it holds in a lot of people's lives. Faith isn't just religious. It is, by definition, the concept of believing without evidence. You have faith in the love that a person has for you, even if they could be faking it. You have faith in a doctor who will be holding your life in the twist of his scalpel without knowing him almost at all. I could go on, but so long as people aren't constantly surveilling their loved ones for signs of treachery, or running background checks on doctors about to perform their appendectomy, there will always be faith in the psyche of a human.

So there, so long as there are phenomena that we cannot explain, reduced with the amount of science advancements in the past few hundred years, admittedly, or the 'coincidences' in life that people will see as some sort of deity watching over them for better or for worse, there will always be that little niche in humanity for religion. *shrugs* Can I explain it? Not really, but there is a reason that humanity has been going through groups of religions over their history. Unless you get rid of all the unanswerables in science and even then managed to infuse every human on earth with that knowledge, it looks like it'll be there to stay. I don't see it as a particularly bad thing, so long as it is held in check. You obviously do, though.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2014, 09:01:52 PM »
And I also didn't mean to imply you frustrated me xD should have been more clear on that. I do have to disagree with you that Atheism is a choice. I mean, can you choose to believe/not believe in, say, Fairies? No. You hear the concept (fairies exist), and your brain either accepts it or rejects it. We can no more choose to be Atheists then we can to be Christians. We can certainly change our minds as we learn, though, but that's about it.

I mean, look at the Clergy Project. That wouldn't exist if this was a choice.

DeamonBane, I think you need to reread my post, as I never once mentioned faith, let alone dismissed the idea of personal faith. Also, the examples you gave are hardly belief without evidence. When you get an operation, you can reasonably expect the doctor whose about to cut into you to know what he's doing, and you can believe your partner loves you based on the experiences you have with them. None of that is blind faith.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 09:05:50 PM by Sabby »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2014, 09:06:57 PM »
I mean, look at the Clergy Project. That wouldn't exist if this was a choice.

This doesn't quite follow.  Many people, for example, "choose" to go to the gym regularly but struggle to actually do so and need a support network to ensure that the choice they wish to make is actualised.  It could be that the Clergy Project is simply helping members of the clergy who have chosen that path to actualise and reify that decision.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2014, 09:11:31 PM »
Someone whose entire life and future has been sunk into a Priest position, someone who agonizes day and night about how the hell they are going to function, how they could lose a lifetimes worth of work and relationships and be left with nothing because of their loss of faith, and it could all just go away if they could just choose to believe? No. That doesn't sound right to me. If it was as easy as a simple choice, these people wouldn't suffer so much.

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2014, 09:14:19 PM »
DeamonBane, I think you need to reread my post, as I never once mentioned faith, let alone dismissed the idea of personal faith. Also, the examples you gave are hardly belief without evidence. When you get an operation, you can reasonably expect the doctor whose about to cut into you to know what he's doing, and you can believe your partner loves you based on the experiences you have with them. None of that is blind faith.
*nods* And my point was that, while there is faith, there will always be those assholes out there that will exploit that faith for whatever reasons.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2014, 09:14:55 PM »
Someone whose entire life and future has been sunk into a Priest position, someone who agonizes day and night about how the hell they are going to function, how they could lose a lifetimes worth of work and relationships and be left with nothing because of their loss of faith, and it could all just go away if they could just choose to believe? No. That doesn't sound right to me. If it was as easy as a simple choice, these people wouldn't suffer so much.

Not everyone does.  The six hundred and odd members of the Clergy project are far from representative.  Many others just carry on with their lives without bothering to agonise or suffer.

Offline Rogue

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2014, 09:15:20 PM »
I'm basically going off four posts ago but I still think this is relevant so....

Basically I think, as far as what Sabby is saying (Forgive me if I assumed incorrectly), is that theological beliefs should have no place outside of your personal belief system. It shouldn't affect the government at all or much else for how society views things.

This is ironic in that it mostly affects the US line of government (as far as "first" world countries are concerned). Note: Gay marriage is still illegal in several parts of the US and Abortion, a personal choice, is still being argued on religious grounds, not even mention potential medical successes having been hindered by the US government because some religious asshole got their panties in a twist about us playing "God". This is also true in other parts of the world, which is why I said first world countries, but especially ironic in the US where we were founded on freedom of religion and exclusion of religion from the government.

Anyways: My personal views are rather... interesting? I've identified most heavily with Shinto beliefs, because nature is a very powerful driving force and I think that if there were a God they'd be a ruthless scientist watching what's going on in the universe. I honestly can't believe in any religion that tells me that I'm wrong to love who I love. As such I prefer Eastern ideologies, but I'm essentially an Atheist. I can't honestly say I believe there is a god. I can say I believe that nature should be protected and there's something inherently sacred about certain things for me but I can't say there is a god.

As for what I grew up as: Mixed religious. I was basically raised non-denominational and both my brother and I have become atheists. 

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2014, 09:22:59 PM »
I'm basically going off four posts ago but I still think this is relevant so....

Basically I think, as far as what Sabby is saying (Forgive me if I assumed incorrectly), is that theological beliefs should have no place outside of your personal belief system. It shouldn't affect the government at all or much else for how society views things.

You are quite correct :) I do not attack Religion as a personal matter, I merely see it as having no positive utility in any other fashion beyond that. Thank you for not trying to take my disapproval and make it seem a personal attack on those as faith, and actually reading and understanding what I've said. I know I can have trouble conveying myself and keeping my tone neutral, so I'm very used to misunderstandings on the topic, most of them my own fault.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2014, 09:26:33 PM »
Basically I think, as far as what Sabby is saying (Forgive me if I assumed incorrectly), is that theological beliefs should have no place outside of your personal belief system. It shouldn't affect the government at all or much else for how society views things.

Whilst I agree with you in principle, Rogue, the problem is that line is all but impossible to tread.  I know from conversations we've had that you believe in marriage equality.  That's part of your personal belief system.  Presumably though you also vote for candidates who believe the same?  Lobby for changes of laws to align with it?  And so on and so forth.

If my personal belief system is that all y'all are hellbound, why wouldn't I take the same steps in voting for sympathetic candidates, in lobbying, etc etc etc,

Offline Rogue

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2014, 09:33:23 PM »
You are quite correct :) I do not attack Religion as a personal matter, I merely see it as having no positive utility in any other fashion beyond that. Thank you for not trying to take my disapproval and make it seem a personal attack on those as faith, and actually reading and understanding what I've said. I know I can have trouble conveying myself and keeping my tone neutral, so I'm very used to misunderstandings on the topic, most of them my own fault.

:) It helps having similar beliefs. Though in some ways it's impractical: Like expecting people to not lobby against things that contradict their personal belief system when it is their right to do so. It's also more practical for those in power to realize that you shouldn't inflict your personal beliefs against others.

I never would expect a catholic priest to marry my girl and I. I would always expect a government official (as a hand of the government so to speak) with the legal power to marry a couple to do so.

Just like I'd never expect a doctor to perform an abortion when it goes against his personal beliefs. All the same thing.

Whilst I agree with you in principle, Rogue, the problem is that line is all but impossible to tread.  I know from conversations we've had that you believe in marriage equality.  That's part of your personal belief system.  Presumably though you also vote for candidates who believe the same?  Lobby for changes of laws to align with it?  And so on and so forth.

If my personal belief system is that all y'all are hellbound, why wouldn't I take the same steps in voting for sympathetic candidates, in lobbying, etc etc etc,

Yes you are correct, which is why this post was coming in the first place. :)

But I think that it should be everyone should be able to have the same things. Same rights to marry, same rights to health care, same rights to basically anything you can think of with appropriate consequences for the negatives performed with those rights. And yes, in practice it doesn't work well. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try for them as a people.

Offline gerreccia

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2014, 10:58:00 AM »
Your belief in no god is a product of reason. Dpn't let other peoples' fantasies scare you.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2014, 11:17:29 AM »
You misunderstand the concept of faith and the place that it holds in a lot of people's lives. Faith isn't just religious. It is, by definition, the concept of believing without evidence. You have faith in the love that a person has for you, even if they could be faking it. You have faith in a doctor who will be holding your life in the twist of his scalpel without knowing him almost at all. I could go on, but so long as people aren't constantly surveilling their loved ones for signs of treachery, or running background checks on doctors about to perform their appendectomy, there will always be faith in the psyche of a human.
As an atheist and generally faithless person, I get a lot of this. And it's dead wrong. I don't "have faith" in people's love for me, I have the evidence of the way they treat me. (As Tim Minchin put it, "Love without evidence is... stalking.") I certainly don't have faith in doctors - I have their certification and ongoing monitoring by expert organizations. Projecting your faith on others in this manner comes across as condescending and rude - by positioning faith as an intrinsic human trait, you define those who lack it as less than human. By claiming to know another person's mind better than they do after minimal contact, you define them as either incapable or completely lacking any sort of introspection. Perhaps people of faith could take it on faith that we mean what we say on the subject?

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2014, 11:29:38 AM »
Your belief in no god is a product of reason. Dpn't let other peoples' fantasies scare you.

And it's shit like this that has those who believe so antagonistic towards those who don't believe. A little respect on BOTH sides would be lovely.

Offline Mathim

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2014, 02:35:39 PM »
You misunderstand the concept of faith and the place that it holds in a lot of people's lives. Faith isn't just religious. It is, by definition, the concept of believing without evidence. You have faith in the love that a person has for you, even if they could be faking it. You have faith in a doctor who will be holding your life in the twist of his scalpel without knowing him almost at all. I could go on, but so long as people aren't constantly surveilling their loved ones for signs of treachery, or running background checks on doctors about to perform their appendectomy, there will always be faith in the psyche of a human.

So there, so long as there are phenomena that we cannot explain, reduced with the amount of science advancements in the past few hundred years, admittedly, or the 'coincidences' in life that people will see as some sort of deity watching over them for better or for worse, there will always be that little niche in humanity for religion. *shrugs* Can I explain it? Not really, but there is a reason that humanity has been going through groups of religions over their history. Unless you get rid of all the unanswerables in science and even then managed to infuse every human on earth with that knowledge, it looks like it'll be there to stay. I don't see it as a particularly bad thing, so long as it is held in check. You obviously do, though.

That is such a bald-faced abomination of a statement I can't keep my mouth shut. There is a difference between having a completely unfounded, unwarranted, unreasonable belief in something, and having a non-guaranteed but reasonable expectation backed up by evidence of some kinds even if those things are potentially products of dishonesty or mistaken interpretations. That you could compare religious belief to believing in a medical doctor's chances of saving a person's life is utterly repellant. I could believe I'm going to shit out a gold brick tomorrow and people will think I'm batshit crazy, but if I say I believe the sun is going to rise in the morning because in over 2000 years of human history, that is something we've learned is a given, nobody bats an eye. See how ridiculous the comparison is? It's these kinds of false ideals and skewed definitions and poisoned perceptions that are preached even by supposed religious moderates that make it impossible for positive discourse to ever occur. A typical religious person will not even acknowledge that 'Hey, maybe your side has a point, I'm going to have to think about this a bit' because the mind is so poisoned by the brainwashing effects of indoctrination that this new information simply takes a backseat to fairy tales.

And it's all because of faith and beliefs in things that nobody bothers to really think about or do their research on. My ex-girlfriend, a mormon, was encouraged not to seek psychiatric counseling and only see her Bishop for guidance and help. Is that logical, or even moral? This is just one of the many examples how ideas that are so commonplace are the product of completely throwing common sense out the window in favor of dogmatism based solely on faith. Faith is not a virtue. It is not ethical. It is not, in any way, good. Taking a 'leap of faith' is basically just gambling, which is a completely irrational activity, in case anyone wanted to argue that.

And not having an answer to something doesn't give a person permission to insert their catch-all answer to everything in its place (read: the God of the Gaps argument). An unknown is an unknown, it's not evidence for bolstering faith just because the opposition, common sense and reason and rationality, don't have an answer (yet). It's only evidence of a lack of understanding on our part as human beings and nothing more, and it doesn't mean we won't one day understand it either.

And by the way, I'm not exactly sorry if I come across as hostile about religion because of how I was brought up but I will at least acknowledge it. I feel that if I'm not communicating clearly how unacceptable the whole mess is to someone of a completely rational disposition, it'll just roll right off someone's back. Maybe you can blame my uncle who wasn't shy at all about telling me when I was very young how an unruly child, way back in biblical times, would be murdered by their parents. Why on Earth would I ever think a book that instructed parents to do this, then or now, was in any way holy or positive? And it occurred to me, not until I was in my twenties, that Noah's Ark was a story about God murdering everyone on the planet but for a family of 8. God is a sociopathic sadist, and yet these stories are so mainstream, and we afford him such deference, that we think these are appropriate children's stories. It's frightening, outright child abuse as far as I'm concerned. And the American Psychological Association needs to grow a pair and start classifying religious dogmatism as a serious mental illness. It took them long enough to cave in and finally retract their opinion that homosexuality was a mental illness.

Online Avis habilis

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #27 on: April 30, 2014, 02:41:46 PM »
Dial it back on the sweeping generalizations, all of you.

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #28 on: April 30, 2014, 03:52:25 PM »
Wow this degenerated into angry real fast. Look I realize some people hate religion...some people scream Jesus and use the bible to be bigoted assholes and really the only people who would follow every single thing in the bible are socio paths. (IE selling your daughter into slavery and stoning a woman for not being a virgin at marriage)and some of it is just plain silly like we will go to hell for wearing mixed fabrics and stoneing someone who works the sabbath(again with the stoning..)I only posted this because I have in the past had people look at me like I was a complete monster for saying"I am an atheist".
1. Your an athiest? But your such a nice person? (did I eat a baby when i was not looking...what about this makes me horrible and on par with Hitler I would love to know)

2. Oh you know atheism is a religion...you have to believe in something.(No to me it is not...perhaps to some but to me no...I like things proven and considering that science can disprove alot of things in the bible...no all but many..yes i believe in science..all hail bill nye and carl sagen)

3. Oh well don't you believe at least a little bit?(No not really...over the years I have wrestled with this..I wanted to be a good person..I got lucky my parents accept it as they do and so do my religious friends. They don't push it on me)

4. Aren't you afraid of going to hell? ( umm..no..you telling me I am going to hell is a bit like me telling you your going to mordor. It to me is a fictional place)

5. You're doing it to be trendy right?(no I am not..I have lost freinds because of it..I have had people scream at me because of it...and some people are simply ridiculous when it comes to accepting this. I thought long and hard to decide..yes I am not just agnostic..I am an athiest.)

6. Oh so you hate all religious people then?(NO NO I DO NOT! There are some people who are lovely...sweet..kind people who do so (some think despite being religious) They help people...they do good things for others...they have fun..they have sex..children marry and have families and it works for them.)

So...not all religious people are bigoted ass's...not all Muslims are terrorists...not all people from England call people guv'ner...not all gay men are fabulously femmy...not all Canadians say eh at the end of every sentence..and on and on and on.

I was actually surprised when there were responses in people simply sharing their experiences and such. Yes religion can fuck a person up...but so can many other things taken to an extreme. I was pleasantly surprised by no one writing a venom filled post about how religion is the scourge of the world and all religious people are sheep..blah blah blah. Looks like I thought too soon..I thought I would share because honestly..I was upset by someone so narrowminded that they felt the need to try and"save my soul from the pits of hell." because I had a different opinion whether i wanted it or not. I did not mean this to spark people glaring at each other and hissing..we are adults here people. Relax...people have their own opinion they are allowed to..if you want to believe in Buddha and it works for you..awesome..he seems like a pretty laid back guy...wanna worship Jesus..awesome..seems like a nice guy curing lepers and blind people. Wanna worship the sun...it is rather pretty and warm..bring your sun screen.

The point I was trying to make is if it makes you happy...it works for you and your not hurting anyone else...go for it. Just don't get mad at me if I don't agree.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2014, 03:56:15 PM »
Assumptions are a large part of life.  That is simply a fact of existence.  People assume that the physician operating on their loved ones is trained and qualified, assuming that the credentials on the wall or the governing bodies that gave the physician those certifications is reputable.  Past evidence has shown that this is not always so.  Therefore, one could make the reasonable assumption that the medical process is corrupt based on X,Y, and Z and therefore refuse to seek medical treatment.  Many people have stories about the horrors of medicine and so forth, thereby refusing to seek medical treatment.  Often times these people are considered to be crazy in their extreme circumstance as their foot turns black or they continue to cough up blood.  Yet based on this notion of evidence, these people have some sort of basis for their thought process.  A rational thought does not always lead to a good outcome.  There is a certain amount of faith or belief or what have you required to invest yourself in medical treatment and so forth. 

People have some notion that their neighbors will not murder them in their sleep.  I can easily pull up articles of people doing just that.  People believe their children are safe while sending them off to school.  Evidence can easily be found to the contrary, but people still have enough faith in human decency and protections of society to continue doing so.  People do things on a routine basis that are not supported by evidence and sometimes have contradictory evidence, but they do these things believing in an already determined outcome.  Driving is a great example as the leading cause of death in the United States is motor vehicle.  Yet when times comes for me to go to work, I will get in my car and drive down the street to engage in what is considered the most dangerous activity I can perform based on scientific evidence.

As for religious people being unwilling to see an alternate point of view, this statement is without basis other than anecdotal evidence.  The majority of people on this planet subscribe to a religion and so you are saying that the majority of the majority (which means close to everyone) refuses to even consider new ideas.  Seriously sweeping generalization there.

As for your coming across as hostile and disrespectful to others, that is simply a reflection on your intelligence and inability to find a better way to express yourself.  I grow tired of people harassing and ridiculing religion with such open hostility because that is the thing to do.  If you are going to scream for a rational conversation, then perhaps you should show yourself as a rational person rather than a screaming, angry zealot.  If you put forth hate and anger, you cannot be surprised when people respond in kind.

Offline Rogue

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2014, 04:13:04 PM »
As a general question: Why does religion = believe in God? I wish I could name them off the top of my head but an interesting lecture in my religions class was Atheistic Religions. Buddhism (Traditional from India Buddhism, not "Worship Buddha as a God" Buddhism practiced in most of China and Japan) is one of these religions as Buddha abhorred worshiping Deities and viewed those who would be deities as beings closer to Nirvana.... This is probably what lead to Buddha being worshiped as a deity himself but that's beside the point. The point is Buddhism, and several other Eastern religions, don't necessarily have Gods but rather a philosophy to hold on to. This is far from harmful, in my opinion.

And yes, Pumpkin's point does hold. We do hold faith that what we are being taught is correct (to an extent as there are several classes where they show us that this is correct).

Take recent Russian history for instance. In the past century people were wiped from the history books and did not exist. This could happen in the US and we would have no clue. This is why conspiracy theorist exist.

Offline Qt

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #31 on: May 01, 2014, 02:05:49 AM »
Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #32 on: May 01, 2014, 03:30:50 AM »
I would recommend if you are entering a debate that you use more than a one sentence statement.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #33 on: May 01, 2014, 07:19:03 AM »
Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

Context and correct translation.  Fun for all the family.

Quote from: Questions sur les miracles (1765)
Il y a eu des gens qui ont dit autrefois: Vous croyez des choses incompréhensibles, contradictoires, impossibles, parce que nous vous l’avons ordonné; faites donc des choses injustes parce que nous vous l’ordonnons. Ces gens-là raisonnaient à merveille. Certainement qui est en droit de vous rendre absurde est en droit de vous rendre injuste. Si vous n’opposez point aux ordres de croire l’impossible l’intelligence que Dieu a mise dans votre esprit, vous ne devez point opposer aux ordres de malfaire la justice que Dieu a mise dans votre coeur. Une faculté de votre âme étant une fois tyrannisée, toutes les autres facultés doivent l’être également. Et c’est là ce qui a produit tous les crimes religieux dont la terre a été inondée.


Quote from: Unsure of the translator
Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever is able to make you absurd is able to make you unjust. If the God-given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God-given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Voltaire

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2014, 03:59:18 PM »
And yes, Pumpkin's point does hold. We do hold faith that what we are being taught is correct (to an extent as there are several classes where they show us that this is correct).

I have to disagree. I hold no such faith in the things I learn. I trust that what I am being taught is true based on the corroboration of my senses and my logic, and compare that to those around me. For instance, mum says don't touch the stove. I don't just simply accept that on faith, I deduce that she's probably giving me good info based on the fact I don't enjoy being burned. Or, maybe I decide to test her word myself. Ow! That burnt me! Well I certainly won't be doing that again, now that I've confirmed my mums words myself.

We have absolutely no 'faith' in human decency Pumpkin, we have a reasonable expectation of humans, a species that relies on social interaction, to act in certain ways. Yes, sometimes they don't, but those incidents don't render our expectations of other humans conduct to suddenly be void and allow you to crowbar the word faith in.

Not a page ago was the confusion between faith and trust cleared up guys, can we please try and use these words correctly? I'm going to requote Ephiral on this.

Quote from: Ephiral being a logical cobra as usual
As an atheist and generally faithless person, I get a lot of this. And it's dead wrong. I don't "have faith" in people's love for me, I have the evidence of the way they treat me. (As Tim Minchin put it, "Love without evidence is... stalking.") I certainly don't have faith in doctors - I have their certification and ongoing monitoring by expert organizations. Projecting your faith on others in this manner comes across as condescending and rude - by positioning faith as an intrinsic human trait, you define those who lack it as less than human. By claiming to know another person's mind better than they do after minimal contact, you define them as either incapable or completely lacking any sort of introspection. Perhaps people of faith could take it on faith that we mean what we say on the subject?

« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 04:19:08 PM by Sabby »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2014, 04:26:20 PM »
Pumpkin Seeds, there are two problems with every single example you cited - the same two problems that crop up again and again every time people like you try to project your faith onto others.

1. As Sabby indicated, there is a difference between 'faith' and 'trust'. Finding a doctor, for example, is the clearest possible example of a web-of-trust situation - you do it by asking around among people whose opinions you trust and who have experience with the sort of doctor you need, examining any past cases that are public information, and checking credentials.

2. Sure, you can point out examples of individual cases that buck the trend in every one of these situations. And pretty much every other situation with a large enough sample size. But let's not pretend that making decisions based on these extraordinarily rare incidents is rational or evidence-based thinking. The balance of evidence is overwhelmingly against you here. It's not 'faith' to assume and act as if the sun will rise tomorrow, or that the person you pass on the street is probably not going to murder you, or that summer will be warmer than winter - it is reasoning on the extremely goddamn vast evidence we have toward those things.

(If you want to be extremely strict and technical about it, yes, all of those exceptional cases have a nonzero chance. But that chance is so close to epsilon as to be indistinguishable for all practical purposes, and as such it is a very distinct form of akrasia to spend any more than the most extremely minimal time, effort, or resources on them.)

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2014, 08:09:14 PM »
It seems, and this is particularly at Ephiral and Sabby but probably applies broader, that the word "faith" is viewed as offensive in and of itself and that that is derailing a really interesting potential conversation.  To paraphrase the initial discussion between Daemonbane and Ephiral a little (paraphrasing in order to specifically pull out how it read to me):

Daemonbane:  Faith is believing without evidence.  You have faith that your loved ones love you in return.
Ephiral:  I have evidence of said through their actions.  I don't have faith and being told I do is offensive.

I might be putting words in Daemonbane's mouth now but, hey, at least I'm being open about it:
It seems Daemonbane is saying he has the same level of confidence in the existence of God that he does in his loved ones loving him (Rogue and Pumpkin make broadly similar points but much less strongly).  It seems to me a discussion of what that level of evidence is would be a lot more interesting, productive and worthwhile than what seems to be little more than, borderline defensive, denials of "faith" being the right word. 

Ephiral was quick to deny she had faith at all, but that's an issue of Daemonbane's word choice, nothing else.   It's a distraction.  The core point is that Daemonbane (pace Daemonbane, ironically) isn't actually claiming that he believes in God without evidence.  If we believe Ephiral to be correct and that there is evidence for the feelings of others, Daemonbane is claiming - through using the same word in both situations - that there is also evidence for God of the same level of....errr....reliability.

Or at least that's what I read, I've deliberately avoided quoting as I'm reading into both (predominantly Daemonbane's) arguments and I wanted to try to show how I was reading/interpreting what was said.

Online Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2014, 09:16:00 PM »
Relying on personal senses and logic has actually lead more people astray than toward the truth.  People place a high price on their own perception, but in large part the senses lie to their user or make interpretations to expedite the process of decision making.  To be honest and meaning no offense, I highly doubt you understand even a fraction of how even one of your sensory organs work in order to understand the deception and meanings presented.  Also logic is not simply a gift, but is something that can be trained and does not always lead to a rational truth.  Logic is typically taught as a course with quite a lengthy field of study in philosophy departments across the world so that logical arguments can be made.  Essentially people are taught to construct logical arguments in order to debate other logical arguments.  A philosophy student could form an argument and proof that shows all manner of things.   So both of what you rely upon is quite faulty.

Even worse is that your logic is then based on your senses, which are deceptive.  A logical argument is only as good as the supporting frame work and stipulations.  This is a pretty poor way to proceed then.  There have been quite a few philosophers that have argued against even recognizing the senses as a contributory factor in pursuing the truth due to their faulty nature.

Also, I think you are profoundly wrong that people lack faith in human decency.  A simple response to a tragedy shows that people trust that others possess human decency.  The first process performed is distancing of one’s self from the individual, individuals or group that has performed this task.  An assertion of group identify and an ostracizing of the other.  Basically some development of “us” versus “them” is constructed.  Someone stabs a hallway of innocent students and the first question is, “what’s wrong with him?”  There is not acceptance that this person is like us, but rather that something obviously sets him apart and makes him different in a way that is non-functioning and near non-human.  Normal people would never do such a thing as this; normal people are decent and good.

I would also argue that you think the issue was settle by Ephiral because you agree and find those sentiments more in line with your logic, which as we’ve shown can be faulty.

My use of the word faith is actually in line with the definition of the word because the word is defined as complete trust in someone or something.  I would argue that atheists attempt to crowbar the word, as you put it, into an argument that possessing faith means a lack of rational thought and ability to argue.  Much like this thread is dedicated to voicing frustration at preconceived notions of atheists, I am simply showing how preconceived notions of the religious are also false.


Car accidents are not rare incidents.  Deaths in surgery due to practitioner error are not rare incidents either that serve as anomalies.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2014, 10:16:02 PM »
Relying on personal senses and logic has actually lead more people astray than toward the truth.

Really now? We're lead astray (astray from what, I have no clue) by the only faculties that we possess that allow us to explore and make sense of reality? Do you have an alternative? Is there a way to perceive and decipher reality that does not involve my 5 senses and the brain they're all connected to?
« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 10:21:11 PM by Sabby »

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2014, 10:57:41 PM »
Faith: Strong belief or trust in someone or something. Belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs. A system of religious beliefs.
1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b: fidelity to one’s promises. Sincerity of intentions.
2 a: belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.
b: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Complete trust.
3. Something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially a system of religious beliefs.


There. With that said - I feel that anyone who says they are atheist also fall under this definition. Why? Because they believe with strong conviction that their beliefs are right.

So where does that leave this whole discussion? Back to that old ‘you believe what fits you best, I’ll believe what fits me best.’ There’s no reason to hate on someone else because of their beliefs. Don’t believe in God? Great! Don’t hate on those who do, call them delusional and act an ass about it. Believe in God? Great! Don’t hate on those who don’t, don’t tell them they are going to hell and act an ass about it.

Seriously, I swear this world has become so damned thin skinned it is ridiculous. I work a job where I have customers who will start talking about christianity with me on the phone while I’m fixing their problems. They’ll witness to me till I am done. Know how I handle it?

Politely. “Thank you for sharing your beliefs/saying you’ll pray for me/saying God bless me.” It isn’t hurting me so why in the world should I get upset about it? It isn’t affecting what my personal belief system is. So what if someone tells me I’m going to burn in hell because I choose to live by the Nine Noble Virtues. I don’t believe in the christian hell so how can this be offensive or damaging to me? So what if someone accuses me of worshipping the devil. I don’t believe in the christian devil. I know it’s not the truth.

I do not understand all this angst towards something that, in my opinion, isn’t that big of a deal. You know what you believe in/don’t believe in. No one can force you to change your beliefs and being polite to those that try and share (because it is part of their religion) tends to cause less stress than deliberately poking at them.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #40 on: May 01, 2014, 11:11:30 PM »
Faith: Strong belief or trust in someone or something. Belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs. A system of religious beliefs.
1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b: fidelity to one’s promises. Sincerity of intentions.
2 a: belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.
b: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Complete trust.
3. Something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially a system of religious beliefs.


There. With that said - I feel that anyone who says they are atheist also fall under this definition. Why? Because they believe with strong conviction that their beliefs are right.

So where does that leave this whole discussion? Back to that old ‘you believe what fits you best, I’ll believe what fits me best.’ There’s no reason to hate on someone else because of their beliefs. Don’t believe in God? Great! Don’t hate on those who do, call them delusional and act an ass about it. Believe in God? Great! Don’t hate on those who don’t, don’t tell them they are going to hell and act an ass about it.

Seriously, I swear this world has become so damned thin skinned it is ridiculous. I work a job where I have customers who will start talking about christianity with me on the phone while I’m fixing their problems. They’ll witness to me till I am done. Know how I handle it?

Politely. “Thank you for sharing your beliefs/saying you’ll pray for me/saying God bless me.” It isn’t hurting me so why in the world should I get upset about it? It isn’t affecting what my personal belief system is. So what if someone tells me I’m going to burn in hell because I choose to live by the Nine Noble Virtues. I don’t believe in the christian hell so how can this be offensive or damaging to me? So what if someone accuses me of worshipping the devil. I don’t believe in the christian devil. I know it’s not the truth.

I do not understand all this angst towards something that, in my opinion, isn’t that big of a deal. You know what you believe in/don’t believe in. No one can force you to change your beliefs and being polite to those that try and share (because it is part of their religion) tends to cause less stress than deliberately poking at them.

this +1

Online Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #41 on: May 01, 2014, 11:15:16 PM »
Definitely support IO on this one.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #42 on: May 01, 2014, 11:32:11 PM »
It seems, and this is particularly at Ephiral and Sabby but probably applies broader, that the word "faith" is viewed as offensive in and of itself and that that is derailing a really interesting potential conversation.  To paraphrase the initial discussion between Daemonbane and Ephiral a little (paraphrasing in order to specifically pull out how it read to me):

The offensive bit isn't the word "faith" per se; the offense is in asserting that you know the minds of effective strangers better than those strangers despite their specific assertions. It'd be just as offensive and annoying if I said I don't like chocolate, and the response was "Of course you do!" despite never having seen me eat any. "Of course you have faith!" just happens to be by far the most common way this assertion is made.

Relying on personal senses and logic has actually lead more people astray than toward the truth.  People place a high price on their own perception, but in large part the senses lie to their user or make interpretations to expedite the process of decision making.  To be honest and meaning no offense, I highly doubt you understand even a fraction of how even one of your sensory organs work in order to understand the deception and meanings presented.  Also logic is not simply a gift, but is something that can be trained and does not always lead to a rational truth.  Logic is typically taught as a course with quite a lengthy field of study in philosophy departments across the world so that logical arguments can be made.  Essentially people are taught to construct logical arguments in order to debate other logical arguments.  A philosophy student could form an argument and proof that shows all manner of things.   So both of what you rely upon is quite faulty.
You're making a lot of assumptions here that may be applicable in the general... but atheists are already an atypical case.

  • IYou're right, direct perception is crap. (I understand a lot more about perception, intuition, and probability than you give me credit for.) That's why perception is extremely weak evidence, and I (and many like me) treat it as such.
  • You're assuming a high value on logic for its own sake. Don't. The value I place on logic is strictly instrumental; it's good for getting me to a more accurate model of reality, nothing more.
  • You assume that I rely on "logic and personal senses", and do so to the exclusion of all else. In point of fact, I actually use statistics that place paramount value on real-world evidence to get to inductive logic.

Even worse is that your logic is then based on your senses, which are deceptive.  A logical argument is only as good as the supporting frame work and stipulations.  This is a pretty poor way to proceed then.  There have been quite a few philosophers that have argued against even recognizing the senses as a contributory factor in pursuing the truth due to their faulty nature.
Here's where you lay the foundation for the argument that all data ultimately depend on faith in the senses. Except... well, not exactly. Perception failure tends not to happen in such a coherent way that every data point you examine on a given subject, including directly verifying your conclusions against others presented with the same data set and priors, will coherently tell you the same wrong thing. Bias is a much more insidious beast, and pretty much impossible to overcome, but developing the skills to recognize and reduce its effects where possible is still more effective than throwing your hands up and saying "It's all faith!"

If you care about whether or not what you believe is actually true, at least.


Also, I think you are profoundly wrong that people lack faith in human decency.  A simple response to a tragedy shows that people trust that others possess human decency.  The first process performed is distancing of one’s self from the individual, individuals or group that has performed this task.  An assertion of group identify and an ostracizing of the other.  Basically some development of “us” versus “them” is constructed.  Someone stabs a hallway of innocent students and the first question is, “what’s wrong with him?”  There is not acceptance that this person is like us, but rather that something obviously sets him apart and makes him different in a way that is non-functioning and near non-human.  Normal people would never do such a thing as this; normal people are decent and good.

You're missing the broader point: "What's wrong with him?" is a perfectly valid question, because the overwhelming majority of the evidence (ie, all the hallways filled with un-stabbed students) shows us that people don't do that without major extenuating circumstances, and further evidence (ie, most mass assaults/murders) shows us that the failure tends to be in the assailant. This does not need to be "faith that people are decent"; it is a perfectly valid question arising from the mountains of data available.

I would also argue that you think the issue was settle by Ephiral because you agree and find those sentiments more in line with your logic, which as we’ve shown can be faulty.
Um. To be technical, you've made a naked assertion (though not one I disagree with) that some logic can be faulty. You have yet to actually show this, or to apply it to the reasoning anybody has presented in thread (though this would not be difficult to do, depending on who you're speaking to here).

My use of the word faith is actually in line with the definition of the word because the word is defined as complete trust in someone or something.  I would argue that atheists attempt to crowbar the word, as you put it, into an argument that possessing faith means a lack of rational thought and ability to argue.  Much like this thread is dedicated to voicing frustration at preconceived notions of atheists, I am simply showing how preconceived notions of the religious are also false.
Okay, then, let me be plain:

I do not place "complete trust" in literally any proposition, including but not limited to "1+1=2" or "The sun will rise tomorrow". I further assert that assigning a probability of 1 to literally any proposition is effectively insanity.

Car accidents are not rare incidents.  Deaths in surgery due to practitioner error are not rare incidents either that serve as anomalies.
Compared to the number of cars that don't get into accidents or the number of people who don't die on the operating table?

Number of vehicles in the US in 2009: 254212610.
Number of vehicles involved in accidents, US, 2009: 9534400.
Percentage of all vehicles involved in accidents: 3.75%.
(Data from here and here.)

I'm having a hard time finding hard numbers on total surgical fatalities, but subsets can be examined:this source indicates that the fatality rate among Medicaid hospitalizations due to patient safety incidents was 0.19%, and this one indicates that about 0.15% of the population above age 45 can expect to die from complications of medical care (and that the number of deaths below age 45 is likely to be statistically insignificant). If you have better sources, please let me know, as I'd like to get better numbers myself.

Now, I admit that "rare" and "anomalous" are subjective terms, but I'd say that using them to refer to things that happen less than five percent (or less than one percent!) of the time is pretty accurate.



Faith: Strong belief or trust in someone or something. Belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs. A system of religious beliefs.
1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b: fidelity to one’s promises. Sincerity of intentions.
2 a: belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.
b: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Complete trust.
3. Something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially a system of religious beliefs.

Define "strong", please. This is an extremely subjective term that needs nailed down if you're proposing a definition for everyone to accept. Is it P>0.5? 0.7? 0.95? 0.99? Is it "Nothing will change my mind on this subject"? "More evidence than I can possibly see in my lifetime is required"? "All existing evidence supports this conclusion"?

EDIT 2: For the record: I ask this because sense 1 doesn't apply in this context, and I absolutely and completely reject sense 2. Sense 3 is the only one that might apply, and it hinges on that.

EDIT: As for why it's important? Because it's not just limited to "what you believe" and "what I believe". It's public perception - ie, the reason it's hyperdifficult for an atheist to run for office in the US. It's public policy. Other people's faith touches on almost every aspect of your life, whether you like it or not.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 11:36:17 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #43 on: May 01, 2014, 11:33:04 PM »
I actually agree, your still misusing the word. Faith in a religious context is different then using it as a synonym for trust, so this still doesn't help you when you attempt to equate the two. Yes, I technically 'have faith' in a doctor (I dislike that use of the word, but we're dealing with dictionaries, so I'll stomach it) but that still doesn't help you in trying to demonstrate that everyone has the same kind of faith as you do.

You still need to explain how my 'faith' in a doctor is somehow comparable in faith in a deity. It's the same word, but a very different context, so you still haven't managed to demonstrate that the kind of faith you hold for the unproven is a universal human value.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #44 on: May 01, 2014, 11:41:28 PM »
When it comes to matter of belief, the term strong generally means "You aren't going to change what I personally believe." An example would be my mother. I have sat down and shown my mother documented proof that this country (the US) was NOT founded on the christian religion and she still swears it was. Why? Because she believes that strongly.

What I am not understanding is this apparent (forgive me if I am wrong here) need for those who do not believe in any religion to deny and deprive those who do believe in a religion. Why this insane need to take away other peoples belief systems? Because whether you realize it or not, that is exactly how you come across. "I do not believe in it so no one else can! It's all bullshit so I do not think anyone should be allowed to believe in it!"

Again, you believe what you believe. I'll believe what I'll believe. Simple. Easy.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #45 on: May 01, 2014, 11:51:20 PM »
When it comes to matter of belief, the term strong generally means "You aren't going to change what I personally believe." An example would be my mother. I have sat down and shown my mother documented proof that this country (the US) was NOT founded on the christian religion and she still swears it was. Why? Because she believes that strongly.

So P=1. Then I reject that definition, too; see my earlier comments on that matter.

What I am not understanding is this apparent (forgive me if I am wrong here) need for those who do not believe in any religion to deny and deprive those who do believe in a religion. Why this insane need to take away other peoples belief systems? Because whether you realize it or not, that is exactly how you come across. "I do not believe in it so no one else can! It's all bullshit so I do not think anyone should be allowed to believe in it!"

Um, what? You'd have to read pretty maliciously to get that from either me or Sabby. The closest I can find is Sabby's statement that religion's influence on society is a problem that needs to go. "This shouldn't guide our society" is not even remotely close to "Nobody is allowed to believe in anything I don't!"

Again, you believe what you believe. I'll believe what I'll believe. Simple. Easy.
It'd be a lot easier if your beliefs stopped forming the basis for public policy or special exemptions - this, not the mere existence of belief, is what most of us have a problem with.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #46 on: May 01, 2014, 11:56:09 PM »

It'd be a lot easier if your beliefs stopped forming the basis for public policy or special exemptions - this, not the mere existence of belief, is what most of us have a problem with.

Mind telling me what my beliefs are? Cause I know for a FACT that my belief system has never been used to make policy in this country.

Might want to stop making assumptions and actually read what I've posted before.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #47 on: May 02, 2014, 12:13:40 AM »
Mind telling me what my beliefs are? Cause I know for a FACT that my belief system has never been used to make policy in this country.

Might want to stop making assumptions and actually read what I've posted before.
Please note that I said "public policy or special exceptions". You read pretty strongly as a believer of some type, given your comments about nonbelievers in this thread. Are you really asserting that there is absolutely no privilege given to "firm religious belief" in any public policy anywhere in the US?

Because if such policies exist, your beliefs are the basis for a special exception that you are granted but I would not be.

Offline Qt

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #48 on: May 02, 2014, 12:14:22 AM »
What I am not understanding is this apparent (forgive me if I am wrong here) need for those who do not believe in any religion to deny and deprive those who do believe in a religion. Why this insane need to take away other peoples belief systems? Because whether you realize it or not, that is exactly how you come across. "I do not believe in it so no one else can! It's all bullshit so I do not think anyone should be allowed to believe in it!"

It's not people's beliefs that's the issue. It's how people act upon those beliefs.

There's nothing wrong with believing something that is not based on evidence, however to let that faulty belief guide one's actions. And when one's actions are ultimately called out on, they hide behind their belief without evidence. That's when an attack on that belief is justified.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #49 on: May 02, 2014, 12:32:45 AM »
And yet no one reads what I have said before. I am a firm believer in each person having the right to believe or not believe as they will. I do not espoused any law or policy that would take that away. I believe in treating each person according to how they act instead of what they believe in - or do not believe in.

And for the record. I am not Christian  -  as stated above and ignored. I live by - and believe in -  a philosophy.  I am spiritual. Not religious. None of my beliefs have ever affected policy or created laws in this country.

And I would dearly love it if the attacks against those of us who do have beliefs, no matter what they are, would stop. Just because someone chooses not to believe does not give them the right to lash out at those who do. Just as having a belief does not give the right to lash out at those who dont.

Real, real simple folks. Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #50 on: May 02, 2014, 12:38:09 AM »
There's nothing wrong with believing something that is not based on evidence, however to let that faulty belief guide one's actions. And when one's actions are ultimately called out on, they hide behind their belief without evidence. That's when an attack on that belief is justified.

What actions are specifically referring to?  For example, there are some in my family who do not eat meat due to their religious beliefs, and go to temple several times a week.  They are not hurting anyone in the process, so why is it justified for you to attack their choice?  Their beliefs may not be based on scientific fact, but they are free to think as they wish on a personal level.

If your issue is with regard to those who try to convert others to their religion, then I think you are finding criticism with specific belief systems, and not religion at large.  For example, in many sects of Hinduism, we don't try to actively convert people, because we feel that the goals of spiritual life can be attained through any religion, as long as it is practiced sincerely.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #51 on: May 02, 2014, 12:40:25 AM »
IO, no one has even attempted to argue that people don't have the right to a belief, so I'm not sure why you insist on the 'do unto others' angle. I'm pretty sure every person here, whether Religious or Atheist, already believe strongly and have demonstrated themselves to believe that people have a right to personal belief. The only things that have been challenged are truth statements like "Everyone has faith". Challenging a statement such as that is not an attack on the person who made it.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #52 on: May 02, 2014, 12:49:09 AM »
And yet no one reads what I have said before. I am a firm believer in each person having the right to believe or not believe as they will. I do not espoused any law or policy that would take that away. I believe in treating each person according to how they act instead of what they believe in - or do not believe in.

And for the record. I am not Christian  -  as stated above and ignored. I live by - and believe in -  a philosophy.  I am spiritual. Not religious. None of my beliefs have ever affected policy or created laws in this country.

I withdraw my point insofar as it pertains to you specifically, then. Question: When did I ever accuse you of being Christian? It's just a bit hypocritical to accuse others of not reading while accusing them of saying things they didn't.

And I would dearly love it if the attacks against those of us who do have beliefs, no matter what they are, would stop. Just because someone chooses not to believe does not give them the right to lash out at those who do. Just as having a belief does not give the right to lash out at those who dont.
You continue to hurl accusations; I continue to ask "Where?" There was some lashing out earlier. It did stop. I admit I read you incorrectly - but I never accused you, personally, of pushing any public policy or holding any specific belief system, and I certainly did not attack you on the basis of said belief system. Nor, as far as I can tell, has anyone else tonight. "Matters of faith should not affect public policy" is not an attack on believers.

Real, real simple folks. Do unto others as you would have done to you.
That's what I'm doing. Challenge my statements, please. Ask for evidence if it is not obvious. Call me out if you see me projecting my mind onto anyone else here. Call me out if you find an error in my calculations, or if the logical conclusions of my statements seem nonsensical or counterproductive to my stated goals. Tell me to fight against public policies that elevate nonbelievers above the faithful. I'm fine with all of those things. I'm not fine with being told I didn't read your statements and claimed you were Christian when the record clearly shows otherwise.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #53 on: May 02, 2014, 01:02:49 AM »

It'd be a lot easier if your beliefs stopped forming the basis for public policy or special exemptions - this, not the mere existence of belief, is what most of us have a problem with.

Considering that, in the US at least, Christianity is the driver behind a lot of policies and laws, it stands to reason that your lash out at me in that statement shows you believed I was of that faith... even though I made two statements in my previous post that pretty much made it clear that I am not christian.

As for my statement about the lash out - and taking into consideration that text is a very poor medium for communication - what I've read so far comes across as very hostile against those that believe. Even going so far as to try to demand a definition of the word strong when I know damn good and well that that was nothing more than an attempt to deflect. That alone was pretty damn petty since if it suited you to use the word in the same context as I did, you would.

My whole stance is pretty damn simple and yet it is continually bypassed, overlooked and twisted. The original post was a rant against people of one faith trying to witness (as is taught to them as being integral to their belief system). It is not that damned hard to be polite instead of taking offense, ranting and raving about it, ridiculing and mocking those that believe differently - on a personal level.

When a discussion devolves to the point of nitpicking on the definition of words used then it's time for the discussion to end. It's ridiculous and childish to resort to that level over something that can be simply ended with "I respect you and your beliefs even if I do not agree with them."

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #54 on: May 02, 2014, 01:20:46 AM »
Considering that, in the US at least, Christianity is the driver behind a lot of policies and laws, it stands to reason that your lash out at me in that statement shows you believed I was of that faith... even though I made two statements in my previous post that pretty much made it clear that I am not christian.

I'm sorry; I did not intend to come across as lashing out. As I noted, however, the laws in question tend to be centered on nonspecific religious belief - while Christians might be the ones clamouring for them, they do not apply exclusively to Christianity by any stretch. So no, a statement that your belief gives you special treatment in public policy makes no statement beyond "You are religious." I was incorrect in this, and again I apologize.

As for my statement about the lash out - and taking into consideration that text is a very poor medium for communication - what I've read so far comes across as very hostile against those that believe. Even going so far as to try to demand a definition of the word strong when I know damn good and well that that was nothing more than an attempt to deflect. That alone was pretty damn petty since if it suited you to use the word in the same context as I did, you would.
You know wrong.

The particular philosophy of rationality that I follow places a very strong value on making sure you are actually thinking and saying what you mean to think and say. One of the most fundamental tools in my kit for this is rationalist taboo - describing the concept you actually mean, rather than using the label that you think means that (and may have other messages bound up in it). In this particular case, I'm glad I asked - I tend to define "strong" much more weakly than you did, and would never use it in the context you described. I'm sorry if this came across as hostile; it was an honest query to keep us on the same page.

My whole stance is pretty damn simple and yet it is continually bypassed, overlooked and twisted. The original post was a rant against people of one faith trying to witness (as is taught to them as being integral to their belief system). It is not that damned hard to be polite instead of taking offense, ranting and raving about it, ridiculing and mocking those that believe differently - on a personal level.
And yet, I'm sure it would be taken as quite rude - in fact, you have outright stated that it is quite rude - for us to evangelize in turn. This seems like a double-standard. You'll find that atheists who object to evangelism that is not tied to public policy and which takes no for an answer are way rarer than you think; as a rule, it's the pushiness, the public policy, or the attitude that we or others are fundamentally inhuman or less valuable that we tend to object to.

When a discussion devolves to the point of nitpicking on the definition of words used then it's time for the discussion to end. It's ridiculous and childish to resort to that level over something that can be simply ended with "I respect you and your beliefs even if I do not agree with them."
When a discussion clearly defines nebulous terms, then the participants can me much more certain that they understand each other. I am sorry that this came across as rude or hostile; that was not my intent.

Let me state this clearly: I have no problem whatsoever with your belief system as you have expressed it. You have a right to that system, and I will respect, support, and defend that right. Nor do I have a problem with any other belief system in itself. One of the people I most profoundly respect in this world is an American Evangelical Christian - and my respect for him stems directly from his beliefs and actions on those beliefs.

ETA: You are, of course, under no obligation to answer this, but I would greatly appreciate it: When I asked for clarification, I tried to make my reasoning clear in hope of avoiding a situation exactly like this. Obviously, I failed. How can I better address this in the future, so as to avoid giving unintentional offense? (If you'd rather take this to PM, I'm fine with that; if you'd rather ignore it entirely or tell me to go die in a fire, I'll accept that too.)
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 01:29:13 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #55 on: May 02, 2014, 01:27:30 AM »
And yet, I'm sure it would be taken as quite rude - in fact, you have outright stated that it is quite rude - for us to evangelize in turn. This seems like a double-standard. You'll find that atheists who object to evangelism that is not tied to public policy and which takes no for an answer are way rarer than you think; as a rule, it's the pushiness, the public policy, or the attitude that we or others are fundamentally inhuman or less valuable that we tend to object to.

Please point out to me where I have said it is rude for atheist to evangelize?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #56 on: May 02, 2014, 01:32:21 AM »
What I am not understanding is this apparent (forgive me if I am wrong here) need for those who do not believe in any religion to deny and deprive those who do believe in a religion. Why this insane need to take away other peoples belief systems? Because whether you realize it or not, that is exactly how you come across. "I do not believe in it so no one else can! It's all bullshit so I do not think anyone should be allowed to believe in it!"

Attempting to shift other people's beliefs to our position is, according to this statement, "denying and depriving" people of faith, "insane", and "taking away" other people's beliefs. If this characterization is true, it's pretty damn rude on several levels.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #57 on: May 02, 2014, 01:40:22 AM »
First off. To evangelize means you believe in something. To believe in something is to have faith in what you believe.

I just settled that whole little debate earlier in this thread.

Second off. I have yet to meet an atheist that actually attempts to sway someone into believing as they do. I've seen them ridicule, I've seen them demean, I've seen them mock, I've seen them demand that all religion be wiped off the face of the planet. But I've never, in all of my reasoning years, seen or met one who truly sat down with the intention of "evangelizing".

And it is the behavior I described above that is rude and uncalled for.

What I do not understand is why someone's personal belief system bothers an atheist so much. Of course, I do not understand why christians get so upset if someone doesn't believe as them, nor why muslims get so upset. A personal belief is just that. PERSONAL. It doesn't affect you nor anyone else.

And if your issue is the public policy ... well, that's a whole different issue and not part of the original post that started this thread.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #58 on: May 02, 2014, 02:02:01 AM »
First off. To evangelize means you believe in something. To believe in something is to have faith in what you believe.
I'm sorry; I was using a colloquialism that translates roughly as "attempts to spread an idea about which the speaker is passionate". I would, in the same sense, describe someone as an evangelist for Linux, or for Doctor Who fandom. In this context, that was probably a mistake.

Second off. I have yet to meet an atheist that actually attempts to sway someone into believing as they do. I've seen them ridicule, I've seen them demean, I've seen them mock, I've seen them demand that all religion be wiped off the face of the planet. But I've never, in all of my reasoning years, seen or met one who truly sat down with the intention of "evangelizing".

And it is the behavior I described above that is rude and uncalled for.

I suspect there's some selection bias at work here, on both our parts. I'm used to seeing messages as mild as "We exist!" described as "attacks" on believers, and so I probably read your statement as broader than it was. Conversely, I'd be very surprised if you'd never, ever seen a single atheist capable of reasonably and politely discussing differing views, or a mild public message from an atheist organization.

What I do not understand is why someone's personal belief system bothers an atheist so much. Of course, I do not understand why christians get so upset if someone doesn't believe as them, nor why muslims get so upset. A personal belief is just that. PERSONAL. It doesn't affect you nor anyone else.

And if your issue is the public policy ... well, that's a whole different issue and not part of the original post that started this thread.
Personal belief systems don't bother us - it's not like we have Goddar. It's only when they become public that we can even tell what you believe at all. Public policy is one of the things I object to, and was in fact in the OP. It's not the only thing though; other good examples include the institutional abuse within the Catholic church and a number of fundamentalist Christian sects (also raised in the OP), acts of outright terrorism in the name of gods (in the OP), the oft-espoused attitude that we are Nazis (OP) or baby-eaters (hinted at in OP) or [incapable of knowing ourselves | not really people] (expressed in thread, and in fact my entry point).

It all ties together. "You have your beliefs, I have mine, let's get along in mutual respect and politeness" is fine in theory - but that's not how it is in practice. And, like it or not, the vast majority of the time, it's atheists who get the raw deal when belief and disbelief conflict, because we're the minority. So we kinda need to push back - nobody ever got equal treatment by asking politely for it.

This is not to say that all believers, or even all members of any one particular strain of belief, are guilty of any or all of these things - the vast majority are not.

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #59 on: May 02, 2014, 02:13:28 AM »
"You have your beliefs, I have mine, let's get along in mutual respect and politeness" is fine in theory - but that's not how it is in practice.

Most of the Christians that I know are very accepting and tolerant, they really help our community here.  I think the solution is for atheists and tolerant believers of all faiths to criticize the use of religion in public policy in a unified manner, rather than have a situation like this, where tolerant individuals are disputing amongst ourselves.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #60 on: May 02, 2014, 02:31:09 AM »
I suspect there's some selection bias at work here, on both our parts. I'm used to seeing messages as mild as "We exist!" described as "attacks" on believers, and so I probably read your statement as broader than it was.

This is the problem, Ephiral.  You're arguing against someone who's not here.  The only disparaging comments in this thread - assuming good faith that Daemonbane didn't mean to offend - have been against religion.  Leaving aside Mathim's hate filled borderline incoherent rants, we've also had outright mockery:

I will go on a Denis Leary like rant about how the magical man in the clouds who watches everything we do like a giant cosmic voyeur who has a zombie for a son who is his own father got stuck up on a stick and died for my sins that have not even happened yet. And all this came about because the rib lady ate the apple the talking snake told her to.

calls for all religion to be abolished:

I am an Atheist, and when it comes to social matters, I'm an Anti-theist. I am of the opinion that the ideas and dogma behind Religion are outdated customs, but the institutions that hold them are destructive to society, perpetuating and celebrating ignorance. They need to be phased out, and they will only go when the standards for life, medicine, education and happiness raise.

and sweeping generalisations:

It's not people's beliefs that's the issue. It's how people act upon those beliefs.

There's nothing wrong with believing something that is not based on evidence, however to let that faulty belief guide one's actions. And when one's actions are ultimately called out on, they hide behind their belief without evidence. That's when an attack on that belief is justified.

while the worst that's come the other direction is, what?  A disagreement about what "faith" means and calls to live and let live.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #61 on: May 02, 2014, 02:40:51 AM »
Please point out the sweeping generalizations you claim I have made. I made it quite clear that I referred only to Religious organizations, so please don't try and insinuate that I spoke against those of faith please.

Yes, I said that it is my opinion that Religious organizations are mostly a negative influence on society, and I stand by that statement. If you feel that I am wrong, by all means, explain to me the error in my belief, but please don't dismiss it as a generalization.

huh?

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #62 on: May 02, 2014, 02:44:52 AM »
Shit, I misread what you said, and deleted so I could make a better response, but you beat me to it Dx I misread you as saying I made sweeping generalizations, but now that I reread, you actually accused me of calling for the abolishment of Religion.

I've made it clear multiple times I don't believe abolishment is even remotely feasible or the right thing to do, despite my negative opinion of Religious organizations, so I still must take issue with what you've said.

Please, show me any time where I have called for Religions to be abolished, and if you actually could manage to find one (it will likely be older then a year if so) then I will gladly apologize for and retract that statement for you.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 02:54:01 AM by Sabby »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #63 on: May 02, 2014, 02:54:35 AM »
I'm not sure what hair you're splitting here Sabby.

a·bol·ish  (ə-bŏl′ĭsh)
tr.v. a·bol·ished, a·bol·ish·ing, a·bol·ish·es
1.  To do away with; annul.

2.  To destroy completely.

(emphasis mine, obviously)


Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #64 on: May 02, 2014, 02:55:38 AM »
Yes, and? When did I call for that?

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #65 on: May 02, 2014, 03:11:49 AM »
They need to be phased out, and they will only go when the standards for life, medicine, education and happiness raise.

Not to put words in Kythia's mouth, but I believe this is the comment she is referring to

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #66 on: May 02, 2014, 03:25:35 AM »
Yeah, Ladia's quite right.  I mean...  I wrote "calls for all religion to be abolished" and then gave that quote.  You worked out I was talking to you but not that I was talking about that quote?  Really?  You thought I'd just picked a random thing you'd said to indicate it was you I meant? 

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #67 on: May 02, 2014, 03:27:38 AM »
Yes, and the second half of that sentence is very important. I do want Religion to disappear, but not by forcing it out. I want it to dissolve as society advances. I don't consider that to be abolishing.

However, looking at the definition of the word 'abolish', I do see how this applies, so I will concede that I do wish to see Religion abolished, but only in this one way. I do not wish to see it forcibly removed, I just want it to go away in a natural and peaceful manner, in line with the population no longer needing it/wishing for it.

Do you consider that to be bad/intolerant?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 03:29:01 AM by Sabby »

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #68 on: May 02, 2014, 03:40:05 AM »
However, looking at the definition of the word 'abolish', I do see how this applies, so I will concede that I do wish to see Religion abolished, but only in this one way. I do not wish to see it forcibly removed, I just want it to go away in a natural and peaceful manner, in line with the population no longer needing it/wishing for it.

Do you consider that to be bad/intolerant?

If someone said, "I want to see atheist views disappear, but not by forcing it out.  I want it to dissolve as people understand the truth of our religion.  No force should be used, I just want it to go away in a peaceful manner, since over time, people will automatically have god in their lives."

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but wouldn't you consider that to be intolerant?  I don't see how what you are saying is any different.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #69 on: May 02, 2014, 03:47:49 AM »
No, I'm completely fine with that view. The person disagrees with my rejection of God and would like society to evolve to a point where no one would deny what is evidently true in their eyes. For now, they respect me despite my disbelief and wish to protect my rights as an unbeliever, so long as I respect their rights as a believer. How is that intolerant?

I personally think the world would be better off without Religion, but I recognize that it is a symptom of a population, and so it is not going to go anywhere any time soon. While it's here, I would protect the rights of the Religious just as readily as anyone else. Where we tend to clash the most is what people think Religious rights are. But that's for another discussion.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #70 on: May 02, 2014, 03:56:58 AM »
"I think the next step in the evolution of society is for people like you to disappear.  As humanity marches on, you'll grow less and less relevant until, eventually, you'll be gone." 

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #71 on: May 02, 2014, 04:31:29 AM »
"I think the next step in the evolution of society is for people like you to disappear.  As humanity marches on, you'll grow less and less relevant until, eventually, you'll be gone."

You have that backwards. I believe that Religion will disappear after certain advancements are made. It's a biproduct of that advancement, not a catalyst for it.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #72 on: May 02, 2014, 05:13:40 AM »
while the worst that's come the other direction is, what?  A disagreement about what "faith" means and calls to live and let live.
Repeated attempts to tell nonbelievers what they really think, even after it's been pointed out that this is offensive and condescending, despite explicit requests to stop doing this?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #73 on: May 02, 2014, 05:21:23 AM »
Repeated attempts to tell nonbelievers what they really think, even after it's been pointed out that this is offensive and condescending, despite explicit requests to stop doing this?

Where?  Clearly I'm reading it differently to you.  I'm genuinely not certain what you're referring to here.

Offline Qt

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #74 on: May 02, 2014, 05:51:17 AM »
Where?  Clearly I'm reading it differently to you.  I'm genuinely not certain what you're referring to here.

I think Ephiral is referring to "faith" thing, where sweeping generalization of "everyone has faith" is used to tell atheists that they do have faith despite their claim that they don't.

Because at the end of the day "I believe in stuff without evidence" doesn't sound very cool.  If I said "I believe in stuff without evidence. But everyone does it" it sounds a bit better. It's kind of like arguing how atheism is a religion.


What actions are specifically referring to?  For example, there are some in my family who do not eat meat due to their religious beliefs, and go to temple several times a week.  They are not hurting anyone in the process, so why is it justified for you to attack their choice?  Their beliefs may not be based on scientific fact, but they are free to think as they wish on a personal level.

If your issue is with regard to those who try to convert others to their religion, then I think you are finding criticism with specific belief systems, and not religion at large.  For example, in many sects of Hinduism, we don't try to actively convert people, because we feel that the goals of spiritual life can be attained through any religion, as long as it is practiced sincerely.

Referring to normally unacceptable actions that people try to justify using religion.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #75 on: May 02, 2014, 06:07:03 AM »
It's kind of like arguing how atheism is a religion.

The problem with that is that "religion" is a notoriously difficult word to define. 

OED gives:
"The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods"

Atheism isn't a religion (neither, for that matter, is deism)

Collins gives:
"a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,"

Atheism is a religion.

I use:
"A coherent set of beliefs concerning a divine being"

Atheism is a religion.

And so on and so forth.  I don't think it's reasonable to dismiss the argument that atheism is a religion without first finding an agreed on definition of religion.  And best of luck with that.  Wikipedia has a massive section on exactly this problem of definition.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #76 on: May 02, 2014, 06:11:43 AM »
"A coherent set of beliefs concerning a divine being"

Atheism is a religion.

So, "I don't buy it" is a coherent set of beliefs regarding a divine being?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #77 on: May 02, 2014, 06:15:20 AM »
So, "I don't buy it" is a coherent set of beliefs regarding a divine being?

Yeah, of course.  I mean, assuming by that you mean "I don't believe it" rather than "I don't purchase it" - the latter would require a whole set of other beliefs. 

But yeah, absolutely.  Do you disagree?

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #78 on: May 02, 2014, 06:19:30 AM »
Yes. By your logic, you are an Atheist because you hold opinions regarding Atheism.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #79 on: May 02, 2014, 06:20:02 AM »
You have that backwards. I believe that Religion will disappear after certain advancements are made. It's a biproduct of that advancement, not a catalyst for it.


As for "natural progress in society" and in people's values and lifestyles, a progress that would lead to the ultimat demise of religion, are you seeing this as getting helped along by swiping at, not people's rght to hold a faith, but their right to raise their children in the faith they hold as a family, to provide any kind of religious education for their childen or reach out to - yes - evangelize a local community?

Of course if one is convinced enough of the superiority and the non-biased objectivity of an atheist perspective - you guys are emoting and telling tales, my side is just being objective and sane - it might smply be argued that

 - every time religion steps into the public sphere without asking every single person who could be present if they approve (and asking them before the outdoor mass, the blessing of a new building, the church-run flea market, the scholl visit to a church) can even get a permit)

 - every time parents send their kids to sunday school without waiting till the children have grown up and can make a free choice of what religion they want, if any

 - every instance of a christian, muslim etc cemetery being set up on ground that somebody else could have wanted

- every time an infant child is baptized or a boy circumcized (I'm saying boy because that is the act that matters in a seriously religious sense and because I think the comparison with female genital mutilation is simply scaremongering, and unwarranted)

with all of those, it might be argued that a religion makes an intrusion past the limit of individual free self-governance ("I own myself and no one can make any decisions for me except if I knowingly allow it"). You could make that kind of argument and I've sometimes heard it. but how reasonable is it to define 'the freedom not to be exposed to any given religion' that way? I don't think ayone would dispute that if you allow people to speak a language but make it a crime, with serious consequences, to teach the same language to their kids anywhere, to print books and newspapers in that langauge except for limited home circulation, to broadcast or make ads in the language, to use it in any way at any public-run place of work  then you effectively kill that language within a hundred years. Religion often is like a living language, it can't exist without a faith community where people are able to get together outside of church services too, and feel free to take their religion into the public realm in some ways.
 -
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 06:26:51 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #80 on: May 02, 2014, 06:26:50 AM »
Yes. By your logic, you are an Atheist because you hold opinions regarding Atheism.

That doesn't make any sense at all.  Atheism is a set of beliefs regarding a divine being.  I hold opinions regarding it. Which means I hold opinions regarding a set of beliefs regarding a divine being.  The better readers amongst you will notice that's not what I used as my definition.

I mean, it's fine to pick faults with my definition - there certainly are some and obviously so.  If it were trivial to come up with a definition then there wouldn't be this problem of definition.  Yours isn't valid but there are some valid ones.   It's heavily dependant on the word "divine" for example leaving it unclear whether e.g. Shinto is ruled in or out.  It further prejudices against less formalised religions - I'm thinking specifically Gardnerian Wicca here, but examples abound - through my usage of "coherent".   

Really, the best/most accurate definition might be along the "quacks like a duck"/"know it when I see it" lines but those type of things aren't overly useful.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #81 on: May 02, 2014, 06:30:29 AM »
As for "natural progress in society" and in people's values and lifestyles, a progress that would lead to the ultimat demise of religion, are you seeing this as being helped along by swiping at, not people's rght to hold a faith, but their rght to raise their children in the faith they hold as a family, to provide any kind of religious education for their childen or reach out to - yes - evangelize a local community?

Plenty of Religious parents raise their children without bias and provide them critical thinking skills. I just want a society where logic and critical thinking are taught to our children before we pass on the fairy tales our own parents told us. Combine that with good education, health, opportunities and happiness, and I truly believe that Religion will shrivel up and exist as a harmless form of personal worship, one that does not intrude upon and sabotage ones reasoning.

That doesn't make any sense at all.  Atheism is a set of beliefs regarding a divine being.  I hold opinions regarding it. Which means I hold opinions regarding a set of beliefs regarding a divine being.  The better readers amongst you will notice that's not what I used as my definition.

I mean, it's fine to pick faults with my definition - there certainly are some and obviously so.  If it were trivial to come up with a definition then there wouldn't be this problem of definition.  Yours isn't valid but there are some valid ones.   It's heavily dependant on the word "divine" for example leaving it unclear whether e.g. Shinto is ruled in or out.  It further prejudices against less formalised religions - I'm thinking specifically Gardnerian Wicca here, but examples abound - through my usage of "coherent".   

Really, the best/most accurate definition might be along the "quacks like a duck"/"know it when I see it" lines but those type of things aren't overly useful.

Kythia, your saying that someone who rejects the idea of a Divine being are Religious. If you can't see a problem with that, then I'm not sure I know how to talk to you.

Atheism is one thing only, the rejection of a God claim. Everything after that is the persons own perogative. This has been explained to you multiple times, yet you continue to misrepresent Atheism as a set of beliefs.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 06:32:40 AM by Sabby »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #82 on: May 02, 2014, 06:34:37 AM »
Kythia, your saying that someone who rejects the idea of a Divine being are Religious. If you can't see a problem with that, then I'm not sure I know how to talk to you.

OK

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #83 on: May 02, 2014, 06:44:42 AM »
Again, Kythia, I hope I'm not putting the wrong words in your mouth.

I think when referring to Atheism as a set of beliefs, it is sort of in a way accurate. Atheists believe that there are no heavenly/divine beings/gods/whatever you wish to call them. That much, surely, we can all agree on. So, by that definition, Kythia's opinion that Atheism is a set of beliefs in its own right is not really inaccurate. It is not a religion or a faith per se, but the definition of the word is a belief in itself; the belief in the lack of a god. Reading some of Kythia's arguments, I think this is the point she was trying to make.

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #84 on: May 02, 2014, 06:45:37 AM »
Referring to normally unacceptable actions that people try to justify using religion.

What reference are you using to define 'normally unacceptable actions' that certain religions promote, which your views do not?  Many Sikh men grow beards and wear turbans as a sign of reverence to their beliefs and pride.  Their worldview makes this normal to them, just as your worldview might normalize shaving as being the ideal for presentability.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #85 on: May 02, 2014, 06:47:06 AM »
Yeah, in essence you're not too far off ladia.  Atheism is {"there are no divine beings"}.  Clearly coherent as, well, there's only one statement.  Clearly a belief about a divine being.  Clearly a set. 

WWWWW.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #86 on: May 02, 2014, 06:50:34 AM »
Again, Kythia, I hope I'm not putting the wrong words in your mouth.

I think when referring to Atheism as a set of beliefs, it is sort of in a way accurate. Atheists believe that there are no heavenly/divine beings/gods/whatever you wish to call them. That much, surely, we can all agree on. So, by that definition, Kythia's opinion that Atheism is a set of beliefs in its own right is not really inaccurate. It is not a religion or a faith per se, but the definition of the word is a belief in itself; the belief in the lack of a god. Reading some of Kythia's arguments, I think this is the point she was trying to make.

Lack of belief is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief. An Atheist can certainly believe that God is not real, but this is a personal belief of theirs piled atop their Atheism.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #87 on: May 02, 2014, 06:55:22 AM »
Lack of belief is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief. An Atheist can certainly believe that God is not real, but this is a personal belief of theirs piled atop their Atheism.

I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #88 on: May 02, 2014, 07:02:30 AM »
I think Ephiral is referring to "faith" thing, where sweeping generalization of "everyone has faith" is used to tell atheists that they do have faith despite their claim that they don't.

Because at the end of the day "I believe in stuff without evidence" doesn't sound very cool.  If I said "I believe in stuff without evidence. But everyone does it" it sounds a bit better. It's kind of like arguing how atheism is a religion.
Yeah, this. I came in to point out that, when someone states that they don't have faith, it's pretty damn condescending to insist otherwise. It kept happening.

Lack of belief is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief. An Atheist can certainly believe that God is not real, but this is a personal belief of theirs piled atop their Atheism.
If we're getting technical and fiddly, lack of belief in a specific hypothesis is in fact a belief about the way the world works. Of course, this is true only in the trivial sense that every observation is a belief about how the world works, but semantics seems to be where we're going anyway.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #89 on: May 02, 2014, 07:04:35 AM »
Yeah, this. I came in to point out that, when someone states that they don't have faith, it's pretty damn condescending to insist otherwise. It kept happening.

Again, we're clearly reading the same thing very differently.  Where?  Where did it keep happening?  I simply don't see it.

Quote
If we're getting technical and fiddly, lack of belief in a specific hypothesis is in fact a belief about the way the world works. Of course, this is true only in the trivial sense that every observation is a belief about how the world works, but semantics seems to be where we're going anyway.

Yup.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #90 on: May 02, 2014, 07:07:44 AM »
I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say here

Atheism. Lack of belief in a God. That's it. Any other beliefs someone holds is a different thing entirely. For instance, "I am an Atheist, but I also believe that God is not real". This is similar to "I am a Christian, but I don't believe in Hell". The second part of the statement is built upon the first, but it's not a requirement for them to hold that position.

Ephiral, thank you for that, I am terrible with semantics.

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #91 on: May 02, 2014, 07:10:35 AM »
I think the problem is that some in this thread are reading "belief" as "religious belief."

When people are saying that atheists have a "belief" they simply mean an outlook or perspective - the lack of existence of any god.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #92 on: May 02, 2014, 07:19:32 AM »
Again, we're clearly reading the same thing very differently.  Where?  Where did it keep happening?  I simply don't see it.

There is a certain amount of faith or belief or what have you required to invest yourself in medical treatment and so forth.

Evidence can easily be found to the contrary, but people still have enough faith in human decency and protections of society to continue doing so.  People do things on a routine basis that are not supported by evidence and sometimes have contradictory evidence, but they do these things believing in an already determined outcome.
("You have faith!" strikes me as a more charitable reading of this, though I admit "You aren't people!" is also valid.)

And yes, Pumpkin's point does hold. We do hold faith that what we are being taught is correct (to an extent as there are several classes where they show us that this is correct).

Also, I think you are profoundly wrong that people lack faith in human decency.
(See above comment.)

There. With that said - I feel that anyone who says they are atheist also fall under this definition. Why? Because they believe with strong conviction that their beliefs are right.
(Context: IO later defined "strong conviction" as "belief regardless, or even in spite, of evidence".)

First off. To evangelize means you believe in something. To believe in something is to have faith in what you believe.

Every one of these instances happened after my initial objection.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #93 on: May 02, 2014, 07:20:47 AM »
Atheism. Lack of belief in a God. That's it. Any other beliefs someone holds is a different thing entirely. For instance, "I am an Atheist, but I also believe that God is not real". This is similar to "I am a Christian, but I don't believe in Hell". The second part of the statement is built upon the first, but it's not a requirement for them to hold that position.

Ephiral, thank you for that, I am terrible with semantics.

Right, I'm not sure you understood Ephiral correctly, but that's by the by.

Judging from this you believe "I am an atheist, I believe in God" is a valid statement - by analogy with "I am a Christian, I believe in Hell".  So, what couldn't an atheist say?  Just so I can be sure I understand you.

(Get to you in a sec, Ephiral.  I think you're being a little disingenuous there but I need to collect some quotes and re-read.)

ETA:  Having looked through, Ephiral, I stand by my belief you're mistaken.  For example, in the final IO quote you later specifically accept that evangelise was the wrong word to use in this context.  You presumably stand by yours that you're not.  I'm not sure though, now that I come to think of it, that's there's much point in continuing this side issue - and certainly not in the public thread.  Thoughts?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 07:33:42 AM by Kythia »

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #94 on: May 02, 2014, 07:43:22 AM »
Kythia, your aware of the law of noncontradictions? Something cannot be A and also not A.

If the definition of Atheist is to lack belief in God or Gods, then they cannot hold beliefs contrary to that and still be an Atheist.

There are certainly Atheists out there who believe wacky things though. No one ever said all Atjeists were rational.


Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #95 on: May 02, 2014, 07:49:53 AM »
Kythia, your aware of the law of noncontradictions? Something cannot be A and also not A.

If the definition of Atheist is to lack belief in God or Gods, then they cannot hold beliefs contrary to that and still be an Atheist.

There are certainly Atheists out there who believe wacky things though. No one ever said all Atjeists were rational.

Right....

A little hard to understand you here so let me try to lay out my understanding.

You say that atheism isn't a belief.  You say that it isn't the same as a lack of belief in God.  You use the analogy of a belief in hell not being necessary to identify as a Christian.  Fine.  With you so far.

A belief in hell isn't antithetical to identifying as a Christian though, but from this most recent post you seem to think that a belief in God is antithetical to being an atheist.So....is the second half of "I am an Atheist, but I also believe that God is not real" redundant or not?

This is where you're losing me.  You say that atheism=/=a belief that God isn't real.  What I'm trying to get at is, well, what does it equal?

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #96 on: May 02, 2014, 07:57:13 AM »
Right....

A little hard to understand you here so let me try to lay out my understanding.

You say that atheism isn't a belief.  You say that it isn't the same as a lack of belief in God.

When did I say that?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #97 on: May 02, 2014, 08:02:16 AM »
When did I say that?

Seriously?

Lack of belief is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief. An Atheist can certainly believe that God is not real, but this is a personal belief of theirs piled atop their Atheism.

Atheism. Lack of belief in a God. That's it. Any other beliefs someone holds is a different thing entirely. For instance, "I am an Atheist, but I also believe that God is not real".

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #98 on: May 02, 2014, 08:07:17 AM »
You say that ive claimed atheism is not lack of belief.

Your evidence is my saying it is a lack of belief

Im sorry, but id rather not continue this discussion right now. Your being incomprehensible right now and I simply cannot follow you.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #99 on: May 02, 2014, 08:11:45 AM »
I really can't tell if you're serious or not now.

Please.  Explain what atheism is and what the hell you meant by:

Quote
Atheism. Lack of belief in a God. That's it. Any other beliefs someone holds is a different thing entirely. For instance, "I am an Atheist, but I also believe that God is not real". This is similar to "I am a Christian, but I don't believe in Hell". The second part of the statement is built upon the first, but it's not a requirement for them to hold that position.

That is literally all I want.  Why won't you?

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #100 on: May 02, 2014, 08:14:41 AM »
I think the two of you mean slightly different things by "belief". Sabby seems to imply that belief in something or someone equals "X is holding it for a factual truth that (p)", or "when this priest or this sacred book says that (p) is true I believe them" - whether the statement (p) can be proved or buttressed with regular facts or not. Nothing more than the postulated statement (p), seen as factual truth, and a general idea of how far it can be used. Kythia is thinking more in terms of: belief equals personal conviction and personal trust (edit: a conviction interacting with (p) ), whether you commit to a given set of physical assumed facts relying on your faith or not.

Most people who have a faith in a God or gods, and are serious about it, don't see their faith as resting squarely on observable facts and nothing more.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 10:17:36 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #101 on: May 02, 2014, 08:23:04 AM »
ETA:  Having looked through, Ephiral, I stand by my belief you're mistaken.  For example, in the final IO quote you later specifically accept that evangelise was the wrong word to use in this context.  You presumably stand by yours that you're not.  I'm not sure though, now that I come to think of it, that's there's much point in continuing this side issue - and certainly not in the public thread.  Thoughts?
"Evangelize" was unclear, yes, I admit that. But to go from "There's an apparent conflict in your statements" to "You used this word, therefore you have faith and I win" is... not cool.

I'm fine with putting this to bed if the idea that it's all been one-sided attacks by atheists against theists goes with it.



I suspect the point of rupture between you and Sabby is not in differing definitions of "belief", but in Sabby's distinction between "lack of belief" and "active disbelief". (I'm not sure that such a distinction is particularly useful or even meaningful, but it's one I've seen made in numerous places.)

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #102 on: May 02, 2014, 08:24:06 AM »
Kythia, I don't know how ive been unclear. I've explained miltople times, so I dont appreciate you accusing me of refusing to answer.

You want me explain again, then I will, but o am stepping out after this.

Atheist. Lack of belief in God or Gods.

There. Ive done all I can. Goodnight.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #103 on: May 02, 2014, 08:27:15 AM »
"Evangelize" was unclear, yes, I admit that. But to go from "There's an apparent conflict in your statements" to "You used this word, therefore you have faith and I win" is... not cool.

I'm fine with putting this to bed if the idea that it's all been one-sided attacks by atheists against theists goes with it.

Ugh, now we run into a problem because, honestly, that's how it seems to me and I presume you're genuine in your statement that that's not how it seems to you.  Can we not waive your requirement?  Or have I misunderstood, I'm certainly happy to put the point to bed, but not to concede it.  Which were you asking for?


I suspect the point of rupture between you and Sabby is not in differing definitions of "belief", but in Sabby's distinction between "lack of belief" and "active disbelief". (I'm not sure that such a distinction is particularly useful or even meaningful, but it's one I've seen made in numerous places.)

Could you expand on this a little for me?  Its not a distinction I've heard before.

Kythia, I don't know how ive been unclear. I've explained miltople times, so I dont appreciate you accusing me of refusing to answer.

You want me explain again, then I will, but o am stepping out after this.

Atheist. Lack of belief in God or Gods.

There. Ive done all I can. Goodnight.


Lack of belief God is a belief in no God.  Ephiral made this point a while ago. 

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #104 on: May 02, 2014, 08:28:21 AM »
*draws in a deep breath*

Ok, so what I am reading now is the argument that being an atheist means you have absolutely no belief. Period. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Yes?

Then let’s look at this.

Atheism originated from the Greek word atheos which means without god(s), used as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society. So, the definition of the word that everyone agrees on is the rejection of the belief in the existence of deities. (As a side note, for simplicities sake, I am not getting into the whole implicit vs. explicit)

Now, what does that little suffix on the end of the word mean? ‘-ism’ A belief, attitude, style, etc, that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism. 1. A distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory. 2 An oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.

So what does that mean? I’ll put it the way it was taught to me in English class.

If it has ‘-ism’ at the end of it, it is a ‘belief in’.

Catholicism - a belief in the catholic doctrine and dogma.
Fascism - a belief in a dictator led governmental system
Racism - a belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Feminism - a belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Monotheism - a belief in the existence of one god or in the oneness of God.
Polytheism - a belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.


Seeing a pattern yet? Quite simply put, you tack -ism onto a word and it means ‘a belief in‘. Thus, with that definition alone - unless you are willing to use the part of the definition that says ‘a doctrine, cause or theory’, you actually have a belief system. You believe in nothing - thus, your belief system - your atheism - is defined as a belief in nothing.

Now, let’s look at the word ‘belief’. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. Do we agree on this definition? Or we can say belief means an acceptance that a statement is true that something exists (his belief in the value of hard work). Or it could be that belief means trust, faith (well shit, there’s that word again), or confidence in someone or something.

What am I proving here?

You guys are splitting hairs. In your rush to pimp smack those of us who have a belief in some form of religious doctrine you’ve managed to talk yourselves into a corner. You do believe in something (the lack of God(s)) and that means you have faith in your beliefs being true. And that means that atheism, by all of these definitions, is a form of religion.

Btw - religion: A set of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality and the role of humans in this.
Yup, I’d say atheism is a religion.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 08:29:48 AM by Iniquitous Opheliac »

Offline Oniya

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #105 on: May 02, 2014, 08:32:17 AM »
If I might perhaps offer something with potential for clarifying:

Kythia - you are claiming that Sabby's 'lack of belief in a deity' is a 'belief system regarding a deity'.  For a moment, let's replace 'belief in a deity' with 'evidence of a murder'.  If Sabby was a detective, and had a 'lack of evidence of a murder', would it necessarily follow - one way or the other - that a murder did or did not occur?  No.  Absence of anything does not constitute a 'system' or any other aggregate term.  You might just as well say that there is a colony of dodos outside with a population of zero.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #106 on: May 02, 2014, 08:35:24 AM »
If I might perhaps offer something with potential for clarifying:

Kythia - you are claiming that Sabby's 'lack of belief in a deity' is a 'belief system regarding a deity'.  For a moment, let's replace 'belief in a deity' with 'evidence of a murder'.  If Sabby was a detective, and had a 'lack of evidence of a murder', would it necessarily follow - one way or the other - that a murder did or did not occur?  No.  Absence of anything does not constitute a 'system' or any other aggregate term.  You might just as well say that there is a colony of dodos outside with a population of zero.

Well, firstly there is a colony of dodos outside with a population of zero.   

Secondly your analogy is ill-formed.  The correct one is - "Sabby is a detective who doesn't believe a murder has taken place.  Would it therefore necessarily follow that Sabby had opinions on the number of murders that had taken place".  And yes, yes it would.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #107 on: May 02, 2014, 08:59:33 AM »
Ugh, now we run into a problem because, honestly, that's how it seems to me and I presume you're genuine in your statement that that's not how it seems to you.  Can we not waive your requirement?  Or have I misunderstood, I'm certainly happy to put the point to bed, but not to concede it.  Which were you asking for?
I'm in pretty much the same position - I'm not willing to concede, as from my POV it absolutely has not been one-sided, but we can cetainly let it rest for lack of productive avenues of conversation and likelihood of hostilities.

Could you expand on this a little for me?  Its not a distinction I've heard before.
"I believe in God" is a statement about the existence of God. "I believe God does not exist." is also a statement about the existence of God. "I do not believe God exists." is a statement about the existence of belief - it is making no assertion about whether or not God exists.

Again, this isn't a distinction I hold as particularly meaningful - it only seems to work in the presence of negative probability, which is nonsense - but it appears to be where Sabby is coming from.



*draws in a deep breath*

Ok, so what I am reading now is the argument that being an atheist means you have absolutely no belief. Period. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Yes?
Sabby might be making that argument. I manifestly am not. Every thought about reality is a belief; the distinction I'm trying to make is between evidence-based beliefs and faith. I have the former; I have yet to see any sign that I have the latter. (I'm sure there's something interesting to be said about my needing evidence of faith, but that's another matter.)

Now, what does that little suffix on the end of the word mean? ‘-ism’ A belief, attitude, style, etc, that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism. 1. A distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory. 2 An oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.

So what does that mean? I’ll put it the way it was taught to me in English class.

If it has ‘-ism’ at the end of it, it is a ‘belief in’.

Catholicism - a belief in the catholic doctrine and dogma.
Fascism - a belief in a dictator led governmental system
Racism - a belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Feminism - a belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Monotheism - a belief in the existence of one god or in the oneness of God.
Polytheism - a belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.


Seeing a pattern yet? Quite simply put, you tack -ism onto a word and it means ‘a belief in‘. Thus, with that definition alone - unless you are willing to use the part of the definition that says ‘a doctrine, cause or theory’, you actually have a belief system. You believe in nothing - thus, your belief system - your atheism - is defined as a belief in nothing.
Um, no. First, you're throwing out the definition - "theory" - that most atheists would find acceptable. Second, there's a rather significant difference between "no gods" and "no thing".

Now, let’s look at the word ‘belief’. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. Do we agree on this definition? Or we can say belief means an acceptance that a statement is true that something exists (his belief in the value of hard work). Or it could be that belief means trust, faith (well shit, there’s that word again), or confidence in someone or something.
I'm wary of absolutes here, but your first definition seems reasonable barring semantic games.

You guys are splitting hairs. In your rush to pimp smack those of us who have a belief in some form of religious doctrine you’ve managed to talk yourselves into a corner. You do believe in something (the lack of God(s)) and that means you have faith in your beliefs being true. And that means that atheism, by all of these definitions, is a form of religion.
First, can we please stop assuming malice? Second, this is true iff you extend the meaning of "faith" far beyond what has actually been used in this thread. You'll note that when I said I do not have faith in altruism or doctors, because I look to evidence, the objection was "Your evidence is faulty!", not "Evidence is irrelevant - it's still a belief!". Inasmuch as there is a distinction between the common uses of the words "faith" and "belief", that difference lies in faith requiring a lack of evidence.

Btw - religion: A set of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality and the role of humans in this.
Yup, I’d say atheism is a religion.
One problem with this: My answer to the question "What are your beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality?" is "Mu."

Conflating "faith", "belief", and "religion" stretches all three words to the point of uselessness. By this standard, "Things exist." becomes a religious statement, and it is essentially impossible to make a meaningful statement involving those terms. And do you think "Hey guys, you have ideas about reality!" is more or less condescending a position than "Regardless of what you say, you still have faith!"?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 09:01:27 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #108 on: May 02, 2014, 09:06:33 AM »
I'm in pretty much the same position - I'm not willing to concede, as from my POV it absolutely has not been one-sided, but we can cetainly let it rest for lack of productive avenues of conversation and likelihood of hostilities.

Works for me.

Quote
"I believe in God" is a statement about the existence of God. "I believe God does not exist." is also a statement about the existence of God. "I do not believe God exists." is a statement about the existence of belief - it is making no assertion about whether or not God exists.

Again, this isn't a distinction I hold as particularly meaningful - it only seems to work in the presence of negative probability, which is nonsense - but it appears to be where Sabby is coming from.

Yeah, that's nonsense.  Interestingly, it also seems to be inexpressible in several languages.  Obviously I'm not claiming that "cannot be stated in every language under the sun"=untrue.  Hence "Interestingly" rather than "in any way relevantly".

Thanks for the explanation though.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #109 on: May 02, 2014, 09:26:22 AM »
So, correct me if I am wrong here, but theory means (at it's core level) an idea.

Now, that said, you are saying that you (not going to generalize and make a broad sweep of all atheists) have an idea that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

An idea can be changed - thus, you really have nothing since as soon as undeniable evidence is provided you will change your mind to follow the evidence.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #110 on: May 02, 2014, 09:42:17 AM »
Faith: Strong belief or trust in someone or something. Belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs. A system of religious beliefs.
1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b: fidelity to one’s promises. Sincerity of intentions.
2 a: belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.
b: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Complete trust.
3. Something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially a system of religious beliefs.


There. With that said - I feel that anyone who says they are atheist also fall under this definition. Why? Because they believe with strong conviction that their beliefs are right.

So where does that leave this whole discussion? Back to that old ‘you believe what fits you best, I’ll believe what fits me best.’ There’s no reason to hate on someone else because of their beliefs. Don’t believe in God? Great! Don’t hate on those who do, call them delusional and act an ass about it. Believe in God? Great! Don’t hate on those who don’t, don’t tell them they are going to hell and act an ass about it.

Seriously, I swear this world has become so damned thin skinned it is ridiculous. I work a job where I have customers who will start talking about christianity with me on the phone while I’m fixing their problems. They’ll witness to me till I am done. Know how I handle it?

Politely. “Thank you for sharing your beliefs/saying you’ll pray for me/saying God bless me.” It isn’t hurting me so why in the world should I get upset about it? It isn’t affecting what my personal belief system is. So what if someone tells me I’m going to burn in hell because I choose to live by the Nine Noble Virtues. I don’t believe in the christian hell so how can this be offensive or damaging to me? So what if someone accuses me of worshipping the devil. I don’t believe in the christian devil. I know it’s not the truth.

I do not understand all this angst towards something that, in my opinion, isn’t that big of a deal. You know what you believe in/don’t believe in. No one can force you to change your beliefs and being polite to those that try and share (because it is part of their religion) tends to cause less stress than deliberately poking at them.

It's been mentioned before, but I feel I have to dig into it some more detail: Is there no qualitative difference between religious faith, and what you are here describing as 'faith' in other types of beliefs? Because the words you use actually matter.

"Something that is believed especially with strong conviction" is not a definition I would accept when discussing religious faith, because it does not cover what I think is the essential difference between religious faith and we might think of as 'other types' of faith. Which is that there is a clear difference between having a 'strong conviction' in something that is demonstrably true, and something for which there is no evidence. The word you use to describe it doesn't change this fact. This is why the preferred definition of 'faith' at least among internet atheists, is 'belief that is not based on evidence'.

There clearly is a difference between a belief based on evidence, and one that is not. To find a dictionary definition of faith and declare that there is no difference, is not helpful. It happens a lot. And I think this problem goes both ways. It leads to people talking past each other, which isn't helpful in the least.

Personally, I don't much care what you call it. I mean, I started by saying I wouldn't accept the "strongly held conviction" definition of faith. But that's not entirely accurate. I'd be happy to accept that as a definition of the word 'faith', but then I wouldn't use the word 'faith' to describe what I think is the important distinction.

I've heard enough people of the believing class make the claim that atheism takes as much faith as religion, that I think I understand the tactic: If you can change the meaning of the word, you don't have to prove that your idea is valid. But it's not really helpful, because it doesn't say anything about the views expressed. Words are, I think, simultaneously full of and devoid of meaning. If you can say that atheism takes faith, and get people to agree with you, you've invalidated the atheist argument against religious faith. At the same time, you haven't really. Because all you've done is changed the words they've used, without saying anything about the content of those words.

So, correct me if I am wrong here, but theory means (at it's core level) an idea.

You are wrong. A theory is a hypothesis backed by facts. I have to admit I couldn't quite find the context for this question, but I felt I had to correct it.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #111 on: May 02, 2014, 09:49:03 AM »
So, correct me if I am wrong here, but theory means (at it's core level) an idea.

Now, that said, you are saying that you (not going to generalize and make a broad sweep of all atheists) have an idea that you are right and everyone else is wrong.
Gonna have to point to Hemingway here. "Theory" as in "Hypothesis which fits all evidence available". The idea is not "I'm right and you're wrong", it's "The evidence for gods is weak and often contradictory; the evidence for gods being unnecessary is strong and consistent; Solomonoff says that, in this situation, you place your money on no-gods".

An idea can be changed - thus, you really have nothing since as soon as undeniable evidence is provided you will change your mind to follow the evidence.
I don't think I understand what you're saying here - what I get from this is that any belief which actually requires or updates on evidence is valueless, which is not a tenable position if one wishes to survive.

Further, I'm not really sure how "I may not hold this position for my entire life, should sufficient counterevidence come to light" translates to "this position does not exist".

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #112 on: May 02, 2014, 09:49:08 AM »
And now I will correct you.

A theory is a group of ideas meant to explain a certain topic, such as a single or collection of fact(s), event(s), or phenomen(a)(on). Typically, a theory is developed through the use of contemplative and rational forms of abstract and generalized thinking. Furthermore, a theory is often based on general principles that are independent of the thing being explained.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

There is a difference. And since there is no scientific proof to back the belief that there is no God(s), you cannot claim that atheism is backed by facts.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #113 on: May 02, 2014, 09:55:46 AM »
There is no scientific evidence to support that there is a God or gods either. 

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #114 on: May 02, 2014, 10:00:01 AM »
This is true. I've never argued that there was. But it certainly doesn't give atheist a right to use the word "theory" with the definition of evidence backed by facts as a description of their beliefs. They have no facts either. Just their beliefs.

The point is, there is no way for this to end with one side being right and the other wrong. We are now to the point of nitpicking over the definition of words - which I mentioned way earlier as being a sign that the topic should be dropped.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #115 on: May 02, 2014, 10:01:24 AM »
And now I will correct you.

A theory is a group of ideas meant to explain a certain topic, such as a single or collection of fact(s), event(s), or phenomen(a)(on). Typically, a theory is developed through the use of contemplative and rational forms of abstract and generalized thinking. Furthermore, a theory is often based on general principles that are independent of the thing being explained.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

There is a difference. And since there is no scientific proof to back the belief that there is no God(s), you cannot claim that atheism is backed by facts.

That's what's called an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

You can't prove there's no god, because any gap in the god hypothesis can be explained away. However, there's no evidence supporting the god hypothesis. And in science, the burden of proof is firmly on the person making a claim.

Honestly, this is such an old and tired argument that it's almost pointless to try to explain it again. I'll simply say that making a claim, and then saying it might be true because the other person can't prove that it's not, is not how science works. It's up to you, the person claiming the existence of something, to prove that it is so. If you don't like it, that's tough, but that's how it works. If you think it's unfair, then maybe so, but that's how it works, and has worked well for centuries. It's how we advance our knowledge of how the world actually works.

It's entirely possible that, because of this, there are things we don't know that we would've known otherwise. But we have also weeded out countless ideas that might otherwise have flourished, to our detriment.

I will say, though, that contrary to popular opinion, it's actually possible to prove a negative. The god hypothesis is largely immune to this, by its very definition, because any and all gaps can be explained away. I mean, that recent film, God's not Dead, tries to solve the problem of Evil by saying god will get around to fixing evil ... some day. It's a complete cop-out, but it can make sense. Because we're dealing with god, and anything can make sense.

And that's why you don't start with your assumptions and make them fit with reality.

Here's a thought experiment I'm quite fond of. Imagine we lived in a world with no church, no bible, nothing of the sort. Is it even remotely possible that people would end up with a belief even vaguely similar to any of our major religions? I mean, sure, it's possible, purely by chance. But considering how many religions exist, and how different they are, what are the odds? Sure, they'd end up believing in something, as people are wont to do when they have no better explanation. But Christianity? Islam? There's not a snowball's chance in hell they would.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #116 on: May 02, 2014, 10:03:03 AM »
It's been mentioned before, but I feel I have to dig into it some more detail: Is there no qualitative difference between religious faith, and what you are here describing as 'faith' in other types of beliefs? Because the words you use actually matter.

"Something that is believed especially with strong conviction" is not a definition I would accept when discussing religious faith, because it does not cover what I think is the essential difference between religious faith and we might think of as 'other types' of faith. Which is that there is a clear difference between having a 'strong conviction' in something that is demonstrably true, and something for which there is no evidence. The word you use to describe it doesn't change this fact. This is why the preferred definition of 'faith' at least among internet atheists, is 'belief that is not based on evidence'.

There clearly is a difference between a belief based on evidence, and one that is not. To find a dictionary definition of faith and declare that there is no difference, is not helpful. It happens a lot. And I think this problem goes both ways. It leads to people talking past each other, which isn't helpful in the least.

Personally, I don't much care what you call it. I mean, I started by saying I wouldn't accept the "strongly held conviction" definition of faith. But that's not entirely accurate. I'd be happy to accept that as a definition of the word 'faith', but then I wouldn't use the word 'faith' to describe what I think is the important distinction.

I've heard enough people of the believing class make the claim that atheism takes as much faith as religion, that I think I understand the tactic: If you can change the meaning of the word, you don't have to prove that your idea is valid. But it's not really helpful, because it doesn't say anything about the views expressed. Words are, I think, simultaneously full of and devoid of meaning. If you can say that atheism takes faith, and get people to agree with you, you've invalidated the atheist argument against religious faith. At the same time, you haven't really. Because all you've done is changed the words they've used, without saying anything about the content of those words.

As a potentially interesting aside (and also a drive by post as I have to go to work then am going drinking), my impression has always been of that same problem but in the opposite direction.  That this definition of (roughly) "based on no evidence" has been "forced" on the discussion.

I personally don't use faith in this context (or try not to at least) for almost precisely these reasons.  But if I were to break my self-imposed rule, I certainly don't think my faith is based on no evidence.  Take Sabby's comment, much earlier in this thread:

For instance, mum says don't touch the stove. I don't just simply accept that on faith, I deduce that she's probably giving me good info based on the fact I don't enjoy being burned.

Now, I wasn't actually raised in a religious family.  But how does that logic not follow with religious belief? 

Mum says go to church every week.  I don't just simply accept that on faith, I deduce that she's probably giving me good info based on the fact that I don't enjoy roasting for an eternity in Hell

Now, you can and all but certainly will claim that there is a fundamental difference given by the second part of Sabby's comment:

Or, maybe I decide to test her word myself. Ow! That burnt me! Well I certainly won't be doing that again, now that I've confirmed my mums words myself.

Two issues there.  First, at the age we seem to be discussing I'm not certain "capable of being independently verified and then being reported upon" is an overly important consideration.  Second, and more important, switch that to a positive.  Mum says I should go to church because I like basking in God's love.  It's a sunny day, I'm in a good mood, etc. I enjoy going to church. Even assuming for the sake of this conversation that there is no God and it is solely environmental factors, I still have evidence that supports the initial assertion.  It will make you feel good going to church.  I went to church.  I felt good.  QED.  Without going in to personal details, my life is objectively and demonstrably better on practically any scale you choose to measure on since I converted.  Evidence exists.  Focusing on your proposed definition of "belief without evidence" is a value judgement not an objective truth (in my case at least).  There are important, useful and interesting discussions that can be held on the value of that evidence, certainly.  Whether its proof of God or confirmation of various mental biases and whatnot.  Sure.

But claiming that religious faith is based on no evidence is poisoning the well.  I have evidence.  Your dispute is with its validity, not its existence.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #117 on: May 02, 2014, 10:05:56 AM »
And now I will correct you.

A theory is a group of ideas meant to explain a certain topic, such as a single or collection of fact(s), event(s), or phenomen(a)(on). Typically, a theory is developed through the use of contemplative and rational forms of abstract and generalized thinking. Furthermore, a theory is often based on general principles that are independent of the thing being explained.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

There is a difference. And since there is no scientific proof to back the belief that there is no God(s), you cannot claim that atheism is backed by facts.
And here's where I correct you. I get to atheism via a theorem, a theory (formal definition), and every bit of evidence I am able to integrate. And I think that you'll find that, in actual use, the unqualified term "theory" is strongly preferred in the STEM fields over "scientific theory" to refer to the formal definition. We don't speak of "the scientific theory of gravity" or "the scientific theory of evolution".

Further, you're conflating "scientific proof" with "fact". These are two separate concepts; there are lots of things that are demonstrably true that have not been proven via blind tests with a control in a strictly controlled environment to p < 0.05.

This is true. I've never argued that there was. But it certainly doesn't give atheist a right to use the word "theory" with the definition of evidence backed by facts as a description of their beliefs. They have no facts either. Just their beliefs.
This is only true if you dilute the definition of "fact" to uselessness, such as by saying "you only believe 1+1=2".



But claiming that religious faith is based on no evidence is poisoning the well.  I have evidence.  Your dispute is with its validity, not its existence.
Semi-valid point; I'll revise to "weak evidence" and apologize for the absolute. (I say "semi-valid" because I accept its validity; I just don't think it's anywhere near strong enough to counterbalance the other side.)

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #118 on: May 02, 2014, 10:10:02 AM »
Thank you Kythia - you said it better than I ever could.

And Ephiral. Prove me wrong.

Point blank, end of discussion. You cannot prove me wrong because you do not have any proof that would undeniably prove me wrong. And in the same damn breath, I cannot prove you wrong because I am in the same damn boat with you.

We have an IDEA - which is, for some, as ever changing as the wind - that we choose to BELIEVE as FACT. Mutate the definitions of those words all you want, but it boils down to what I just said. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

Any argument beyond that is nitpicking and done solely because some people cannot live and let live. It has to be their way or no way.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #119 on: May 02, 2014, 10:20:19 AM »
As a potentially interesting aside (and also a drive by post as I have to go to work then am going drinking), my impression has always been of that same problem but in the opposite direction.  That this definition of (roughly) "based on no evidence" has been "forced" on the discussion.

It probably was, because it's essential to understanding religious faith.

But claiming that religious faith is based on no evidence is poisoning the well.  I have evidence.  Your dispute is with its validity, not its existence.

You have evidence, but of what?

Maybe I should've been clearer on this, but when I say religious faith isn't based on evidence, I don't mean to suggest that I don't think going to church is good. I don't really care much what people do with their Sundays. The essential questions is whether or not the central claims made by the relevant religion are true. Which is not "going to church is good", but "god is real, and god created everything, and cares about what you do".

There can't be evidence for the god hypothesis, because it's utterly unfalsifiable. A hypothesis must be falsifiable. It's not the evidence that's not valid, it's the hypothesis.

And there are very good reasons for this. I suspect the religiously savvy are very well aware that if they did make their hypothesis somehow falsifiable, they would quickly be proven false. When you leave it obscure, it becomes impossible to prove one way or the other. For many people, that's quite enough. For the scientifically minded, it isn't.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #120 on: May 02, 2014, 10:20:59 AM »
Thank you Kythia - you said it better than I ever could.

And Ephiral. Prove me wrong.
I cannot do so, not because of a lack of evidence, not even because of the extreme difficulty in proving a negative, but because the only standard of "proof" you appear to be willing to accept is one that is literally impossible to ever achieve about anything. (This is mathematically proven; if you ever look at evidence in the first place, 100% certainty is not possible.)

Point blank, end of discussion. You cannot prove me wrong because you do not have any proof that would undeniably prove me wrong. And in the same damn breath, I cannot prove you wrong because I am in the same damn boat with you.
I don't need undeniable; I need "outweighs most of the modern understanding of physics" or "proves Solomonoff wrong" or "proves Bayes wrong", and "elevates this hypothesis above the general noise of every competing hypothesis". Any one of the first three, plus the second, will do. This is a non-impossible, but non-trivial task. Given that you're the one making the assertion, it is your place to defend it, and the task is possible if the world does, in fact, have supernatural elements.

We have an IDEA - which is, for some, as ever changing as the wind - that we choose to BELIEVE as FACT. Mutate the definitions of those words all you want, but it boils down to what I just said. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

Any argument beyond that is nitpicking and done solely because some people cannot live and let live. It has to be their way or no way.
No. I explicitly do not believe that no-gods and no-supernatural are facts. I place probabilities on them. Probabilitiy is a measure of uncertainty by its nature.

But, of course, pointing out that my stance is weaker than you claim is proof that it has to be my way or no way. Right.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #121 on: May 02, 2014, 10:35:15 AM »
The essential questions is whether or not the central claims made by the relevant religion are true. Which is not "going to church is good", but "god is real, and god created everything, and cares about what you do".

Which religion are you a specialist in?  Why are you in a better position to explain the central claims of my religion (any religion) than I am?  Why, for that matter, is anyone in the privileged position of knowing more about another's faith than they do themselves. 

Quote
There can't be evidence for the god hypothesis, because it's utterly unfalsifiable. A hypothesis must be falsifiable. It's not the evidence that's not valid, it's the hypothesis.

I'm glad you think so.  However, there are vast swathes of my life I - quite correctly - don't demand scientific rigor in.  Why do you insist this can't be one of them?

Quote
And there are very good reasons for this. I suspect the religiously savvy are very well aware that if they did make their hypothesis somehow falsifiable, they would quickly be proven false. When you leave it obscure, it becomes impossible to prove one way or the other. For many people, that's quite enough. For the scientifically minded, it isn't.

That's nonsense.  Is your claim seriously that four thousand years ago Jews came up with their religion and, after much debate, phrased it in a way that would be immune to a scientific method that hadn't yet been developed?  That two thousand years ago Christians did the same?  Fifteen hundred years ago Muslims did the same?  Your claim that this was done deliberately and maliciously - even if we assume it was done at all - makes no sense.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #122 on: May 02, 2014, 10:38:25 AM »
Let me throw this one bit out.

If you are saying that you are uncertain of whether there is a God(s) then that is NOT atheism. That is called being an agnostic (definition below).

Agnostic: ag·nos·tic  [ag-nos-tik]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.
2.
a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
3.
a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic: Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality.
adjective
4.
of or pertaining to agnostics or their doctrines, attitudes, or beliefs.
5.
asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
6.
holding neither of two opposing positions: If you take an agnostic view of technology, then it becomes clear that your decisions to implement one solution or another should be driven by need.

As for your stance that I need to prove my belief with facts because I am defending - who's the one defending here? I've never once said my beliefs are the right and only way. Matter of fact, I have continually said that everyone should drop it and let each person live as they want. I do not need to prove anything to anyone because... guess what... each person makes up their own mind what is true and best for them. My issue is when people - of any belief system - start trying to say their way is right and the only right way. This includes agnostics and atheists.


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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #123 on: May 02, 2014, 10:39:41 AM »
That's nonsense.  Is your claim seriously that four thousand years ago Jews came up with their religion and, after much debate, phrased it in a way that would be immune to a scientific method that hadn't yet been developed?  That two thousand years ago Christians did the same?  Fifteen hundred years ago Muslims did the same?  Your claim that this was done deliberately and maliciously - even if we assume it was done at all - makes no sense.

Worth noting: Four thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, fifteen hundred years ago, people made falsifiable claims about God all the time. The Bible, for instance, is chock full of 'em. Constraining him to unfalsifiable arenas is an extremely recent phenomenon - one that appears, at a quick glance, to coincide roughly with when we began testing these claims in earnest.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #124 on: May 02, 2014, 10:44:30 AM »
Worth noting: Four thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, fifteen hundred years ago, people made falsifiable claims about God all the time. The Bible, for instance, is chock full of 'em. Constraining him to unfalsifiable arenas is an extremely recent phenomenon - one that appears, at a quick glance, to coincide roughly with when we began testing these claims in earnest.

The falsifiable claims were the reason behind my "even if we assume it were done at all".

And I suspect you're putting the cart before the horse to some extent.  "Since we started checking, the only claims about God that haven't been falsified are unfalsifiable" has two potential reasons.  I'm not for one second arguing that there haven't been a lot of lazy and intellectually bankrupt statements made, and I like to think I call them when I see them.  But it was St Aquinas fifteen hundred years ago who claimed that God exists outside of time.

EDIT:  Augustine, obviously.  Not sure what came over me
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 10:46:01 AM by Kythia »

Online Hemingway

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #125 on: May 02, 2014, 10:46:47 AM »
Which religion are you a specialist in?  Why are you in a better position to explain the central claims of my religion (any religion) than I am?  Why, for that matter, is anyone in the privileged position of knowing more about another's faith than they do themselves.

I'm not sure where I claimed any of this. Why, for that matter, would it matter? If I were a biblical scholar, why would that make my statements any more or less valid? I'm not making arguments from authority here. They stand ( and fall ) on their own merits. If you'd like to comment on the statements I made, you're free to do so. If not, I think my point is made.

I'm glad you think so.  However, there are vast swathes of my life I - quite correctly - don't demand scientific rigor in.  Why do you insist this can't be one of them?

May I remind you that you were the one who first responded my my post, where I responded to someone else, specifically to claim your beliefs were based on evidence?

That's nonsense.  Is your claim seriously that four thousand years ago Jews came up with their religion and, after much debate, phrased it in a way that would be immune to a scientific method that hadn't yet been developed?  That two thousand years ago Christians did the same?  Fifteen hundred years ago Muslims did the same?  Your claim that this was done deliberately and maliciously - even if we assume it was done at all - makes no sense.

I'd be surprised if they weren't.

Granted, it may simply reflect the general ignorance of people 2000 years ago about how the universe worked. But why do people do it to this day?

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #126 on: May 02, 2014, 10:51:33 AM »
I'm not sure where I claimed any of this. Why, for that matter, would it matter? If I were a biblical scholar, why would that make my statements any more or less valid? I'm not making arguments from authority here. They stand ( and fall ) on their own merits. If you'd like to comment on the statements I made, you're free to do so. If not, I think my point is made.

You claimed that the central claims of a religion were X,Y,Z.  Being a biblical scholar wouldn't make your arguments more valid per se, but providing even a single solitary shred of evidence would.  As it stands, its your word against mine which is why it matters what makes your opinion more valid than mine.

Quote
May I remind you that you were the one who first responded my my post, where I responded to someone else, specifically to claim your beliefs were based on evidence?

You may.  My point stands though - I don't demand scientific evidence in other areas of my life, why must I in this?  There is a world of difference between "has some evidence" and "can submit a peer reviewed article."  Your points about hypotheses are only relevant if you are insisting that all evidence must be held to literally the highest standard imaginable.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #127 on: May 02, 2014, 10:59:13 AM »
If you are saying that you are uncertain of whether there is a God(s) then that is NOT atheism. That is called being an agnostic (definition below).

Definition goes here.
Agnostic: ag·nos·tic  [ag-nos-tik]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.
2.
a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
3.
a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic: Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality.
adjective
4.
of or pertaining to agnostics or their doctrines, attitudes, or beliefs.
5.
asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
6.
holding neither of two opposing positions: If you take an agnostic view of technology, then it becomes clear that your decisions to implement one solution or another should be driven by need.
First: Erm, you are aware that dictionaries are descriptive, not proscriptive, and tend to lag behind actual use, right?

Second: Certainty is inherently divorced from reality. Being aware that uncertainty exists is not the same as taking any given hypothesis seriously. I am more certain of the non-existence of any god you care to name than I am of my own existence. If you were to give us a quick quiz on what we believe about the supernatural and how we interact with these concepts, you would find more overlap between me and a hard-line, 100% certain atheist than you would between me and an agnostic. The primary difference is that a hard-line 100% certain atheist is insane. Agnosticism about any given hypothesis is not the null position; the null position is "Why should I consider this above the general noise of literally every possible idea on how the world works, including those never conceived by any human mind?".

As for your stance that I need to prove my belief with facts because I am defending - who's the one defending here? I've never once said my beliefs are the right and only way. Matter of fact, I have continually said that everyone should drop it and let each person live as they want. I do not need to prove anything to anyone because... guess what... each person makes up their own mind what is true and best for them. My issue is when people - of any belief system - start trying to say their way is right and the only right way. This includes agnostics and atheists.
You don't need to prove it because you are defending. You need to prove it because you are the one asserting an extra phenomenon; the burden of proof, inasmuch as anyone here has to prove anything, is on you, not me.

The bolded line appears not to be true. You've taken quite a bit of issue with me, despite the fact that my initial assertion was simply "I do not have faith", and that I have not said that my way is the only right way, merely that it is where the balance of evidence seems to rest once run through Bayes and Solomonoff. You're free to believe what you want; you may even be correct. The only things I have ever asked you or anyone else in this thread to do are stop telling the faithless how our minds work, stop assuming malice, and stop accusing me of saying things I did not say.



And I suspect you're putting the cart before the horse to some extent.  "Since we started checking, the only claims about God that haven't been falsified are unfalsifiable" has two potential reasons.  I'm not for one second arguing that there haven't been a lot of lazy and intellectually bankrupt statements made, and I like to think I call them when I see them.  But it was St Aquinas fifteen hundred years ago who claimed that God exists outside of time.

EDIT:  Augustine, obviously.  Not sure what came over me
My point wasn't anything to do with God-existence; it was that "God is deliberately constrained to the unfalsifiable by believers" and "The founders of the religion did not deliberately constrain God to the unfalsifiable" are not mutually exclusive concepts. Your argument depended on them being so.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 11:01:23 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Oniya

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #128 on: May 02, 2014, 11:04:14 AM »
You know, the vigor with which people insist on trying to prove the unprovable might be another reason that the OP has made her personal choice.  Or that anyone else makes theirs.

Online Hemingway

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #129 on: May 02, 2014, 11:05:08 AM »
You claimed that the central claims of a religion were X,Y,Z.  Being a biblical scholar wouldn't make your arguments more valid per se, but providing even a single solitary shred of evidence would.  As it stands, its your word against mine which is why it matters what makes your opinion more valid than mine.

In three major religions, the validity of the religion hinges upon the existence of a deity. In the end, all claims about salvation, heaven, hell, sin, creation, and so forth, depend on gods for validity. If there were no god, god could not have created the universe, so their creation myths would be false. Without a god to judge people, there could not be any sin, or a hell, or a heaven. Certainly no prayer.

Which is not, to say, that the existence of a god would prove that all of these existed as described in their respective holy books. That god could just as easily be malicious and misleading, you know? But without god, they can't exist, not as presented in the scriptures of these religions.

If you believe in some religion for which this is not true, I'd be happy to discuss it in more detail, but I'd have to know what it was, at the very least.

You may.  My point stands though - I don't demand scientific evidence in other areas of my life, why must I in this?  There is a world of difference between "has some evidence" and "can submit a peer reviewed article."  Your points about hypotheses are only relevant if you are insisting that all evidence must be held to literally the highest standard imaginable.

I never said you should.

I don't actually feel very strongly about faith, or beliefs, or religion. I enjoy discussing religion, and I'll join in if there's a debate. I don't much care what people think or believe. I do care when people make claims about science that are wrong, though.

I do care when people try to use their religion for some political end. I despise that. In those cases, it's sometimes necessary to go into faith and beliefs - and I feel I have some sort of moral duty to those who are suffering because of it to try to help. Still, there's none of that here, so that really doesn't apply. I also recognize that, very often, these issues are not, at their cores, religious issues. Very often they are, in reality, economic, or political.

It might be a disappointing answer, but I don't demand what you say I demand. I'm discussing it because there's a discussion going on, and I find that positively entertaining and interesting.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #130 on: May 02, 2014, 11:07:15 AM »
My point wasn't anything to do with God-existence; it was that "God is deliberately constrained to the unfalsifiable by believers" and "The founders of the religion did not deliberately constrain God to the unfalsifiable" are not mutually exclusive concepts. Your argument depended on them being so.

No, my argument was "Since the founding of the religion, both falsifiable and unfalsifiable claims have been made by believers.  Claims that this was done to frustrate the scientific method require either time travel or God."

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #131 on: May 02, 2014, 11:10:57 AM »
No, my argument was "Since the founding of the religion, both falsifiable and unfalsifiable claims have been made by believers.  Claims that this was done to frustrate the scientific method require either time travel or God."
Okay, I misunderstood. In that case, the obvious rebuttal would be that Hemingway was speaking of the modern environment, where gods are typically constrained to the unfalsifiable. This requires neither time machines nor God, as the intent of the founders of a religion is utterly irrelevant to where it winds up.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #132 on: May 02, 2014, 11:12:48 AM »
Okay, I misunderstood. In that case, the obvious rebuttal would be that Hemingway was speaking of the modern environment, where gods are typically constrained to the unfalsifiable. This requires neither time machines nor God, as the intent of the founders of a religion is utterly irrelevant to where it winds up.

It's also not true though.  Bananas aren't proof of creation.  The Grand Canyon isn't proof of a great flood.  Hurricanes aren't an angry God penalising America for homosexuals.  Loads and loads and loads of totally falsifiable claims have been made in the modern era.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #133 on: May 02, 2014, 11:15:16 AM »
It's also not true though.  Bananas aren't proof of creation.  The Grand Canyon isn't proof of a great flood.  Hurricanes aren't an angry God penalising America for homosexuals.  Loads and loads and loads of totally falsifiable claims have been made in the modern era.
I did say "typically"; creationist evangelicism is decidedly atypical. I will concede the point in this specific case, though.

EDIT: On further examination, I may have spoken hastily. It seems intuitive from the examples I have to hand that the majority of religions tend to constrain to the falsifiable, but I may have a not-sufficiently-large or biased sample pool. I'll withdraw the entire point given the rather shaky ground I find myself on.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 11:20:37 AM by Ephiral »

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #134 on: May 02, 2014, 01:20:05 PM »
I have to disagree. I hold no such faith in the things I learn. I trust that what I am being taught is true based on the corroboration of my senses and my logic, and compare that to those around me. For instance, mum says don't touch the stove. I don't just simply accept that on faith, I deduce that she's probably giving me good info based on the fact I don't enjoy being burned. Or, maybe I decide to test her word myself. Ow! That burnt me! Well I certainly won't be doing that again, now that I've confirmed my mums words myself.

We have absolutely no 'faith' in human decency Pumpkin, we have a reasonable expectation of humans, a species that relies on social interaction, to act in certain ways. Yes, sometimes they don't, but those incidents don't render our expectations of other humans conduct to suddenly be void and allow you to crowbar the word faith in.

Not a page ago was the confusion between faith and trust cleared up guys, can we please try and use these words correctly? I'm going to requote Ephiral on this.

I'm sorry I'm responding late and if this has already been resolved. However, I wanted to respond to this because I like making my own arguments for such things.

My point was that in Russia around the point of Stalin's take over, people started disappearing from the history books. While we know these people existed, there was no evidence of them in Russia as they'd been wiped from every record and photo from that time.

I am going to now going to bring up a point.

We have faith (or evidence based on what we've perceived throughout or years in school) that if we were to take the world and flatten it (if it were at all physically possible) it would look something like....

this

In fact this is a map similar to one displayed in most every school throughout the US.

However, if we were to accurately portray the proportions based on square kilometers of land...

This is what our maps would look like

This is the kind of thing I mean. While I'm apparently using the term "faith" incorrectly, definitions evolve. Faith no longer has the same connotation to me that it has to be "Strong". Heck it could be blindly believing that what we are taught via "evidence" that we don't care enough to look closer at. However, we never seem to keep in mind that this evidence has been reviewed by others with tainted eyes before being shown to us.

I used to have faith that my Mom wouldn't lie to me. That's been proven false again and again. I have faith that I'm actually in my body not in a Matrix and that I can trust my senses. All of the evidence points to this. But we're just going to ignore that our minds are essentially computers taking electrical impulses and delivering them to release chemicals (or at least that's what I've been taught by people who've put more time and effort into studying this subject.)

Like I said originally, you'd have to dive into the realm of Conspiracy theorists and paranoia to not have a little faith in something. And once you do, you'll realise just how much faith you actually have in these truths that you've learned.

Once again, I apologize if this has already been resolved. I just felt the need to respond for myself and make my own arguments.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #135 on: May 02, 2014, 01:32:50 PM »
It's quite alright, I'd like the chance to restate myself on this any how. I have since conceded that the word faith is valid in those contexts you list, however my point of contention is that that still doesn't help the original point. Trying to equate demonstrations of faith in the Religious context with faith in the strong belief based on observation and deduction context doesn't help you in demonstrating that we all share a similar feeling of faith, making it an intrinsic human value. It's two drastically different uses of the word. We might as well be using different words.

"Oh, well, I believe in this thing that has no evidence, and you believe in these things that are reasonable but have a margin of error. But they both have the same word, so we're the same! That makes our beliefs equal"

No. No, it does not.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #136 on: May 02, 2014, 01:42:59 PM »
Ah. I'm not disagreeing with you on that point. I just want to say that Atheists do have faith in things. Ours is just is a lot more sound in evidence. Hold on! I just realized.... I have the perfect comic to illustrate this.

large comic

Edit: Clarifying that this is from a heavily Evangelist Christian character who actually believes that God wrote the Bible. I know that not all Christians believe that. :) Thank you.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 01:46:23 PM by Rogue of TimeyWimey Stuff »

Offline Florence

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #137 on: May 02, 2014, 02:03:44 PM »
Just caught up to this and I felt like I needed to point this out.

Quote
Collins gives:
"a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,"

Atheism is not a set of beliefs, or a system of beliefs, or a doctrine or anything of the sort. It is a single belief (which itself is simply the rejection of a belief). Thus, this definition does not apply.

If every single belief is a religion, then the word 'religion' loses all meaning, as it becomes simply a synonym for 'belief'. My belief that Coca Cola is superior to Pepsi becomes a religion. My belief that olives are over-rated becomes a religion. My belief that Star Wars is the true word of God... well, okay, maybe that one IS a religion, but my point still stands.

Atheism makes no claims as to the cause, nature or purpose of the universe, it is simply a rejection of beliefs submitted.

I think the best way I've ever heard it put is "Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position."

Quote
Lack of belief God is a belief in no God.  Ephiral made this point a while ago.

No it is not. It may seem a minor semantics, but its two entirely different things. Given how many debates such as this I've seen boil down to semantics, its probably good to be clear on what is meant by words such as 'atheism'. When ones claims that 'Atheism is a religion', they're utilizing a definition of the word that I think most people using it to identify themselves don't mean.

"I do not believe there is a god" is not the same as "I believe there is no god."

One is the rejection of a claim, the other is a claim itself. The former requires no faith, the latter does (or some kind of crazy mounds of evidence that simply do not exist.)

Admittedly people who hold both of those positions will likely both call themselves 'atheist' as the word has a history of being very poorly defined. I do think that MOST atheists, at least my self most certainly, subscribe to the former position more than the latter. As I believe Ephiral as pointed out, an argument based on certainty is effective insanity. I suppose a less certain statement of "I believe there is no god", as in, "I think its likely there is no god" is more reasonable, assuming its meant as more of a strong statement of belief, "There is no god", that is simply an insane statement to make, in my opinion.

Please note, I am using the term 'god' to refer to any deity, not specifically the God we all know so well in the Western World. Admittedly I would say I believe that God does NOT exist, simply based on my observations of the world around me not really meshing with that particular deity's existence. In other words, I feel as though sufficient evidence exists to declare that assertion to be false. As for whether or not SOME form of deity exists... I simply believe that there is no evidence in favor of it, thus I reject the assertion until such a time that new evidence is made available to me.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #138 on: May 02, 2014, 02:25:39 PM »
The problem, Rogue, is that... this still doesn't hold water unless you just use "faith" as another word for "belief" - which is not how it's being used here, is not how it tends to be used generally in my experience, and renders the entire question "Does X person or group of people have faith?" devoid of content. Updating on the evidence is the exact opposite of faith-as-colloquially-used.

"I do not believe there is a god" is not the same as "I believe there is no god."
I'm sorry, but you are factually wrong here.
Crunchy bits hidden for the disinclined.
Glossing over a lot here, but it's not terribly relevant to the core topic. Feel free to take it to PMs if you want more depth.
P(A)+P(~A)=1. The probability that A is true, and that A is not true, will always equal 1. By extension, anything that makes A less likely makes not-A more likely. Probability is a measure of confidence - so the more strongly you assert your disbelief in God, the more strongly you assert your belief in not-God. P(God)-X=1-(P(~God)+X)

A useful exercise: What does the disbeliever do that the nonbeliever does not? What does the nonbeliever do that the disbeliever does not? What actual, real-world difference is there between these two allegedly-different states?

Offline Rogue

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #139 on: May 02, 2014, 02:34:27 PM »
The problem, Rogue, is that... this still doesn't hold water unless you just use "faith" as another word for "belief" - which is not how it's being used here, is not how it tends to be used generally in my experience, and renders the entire question "Does X person or group of people have faith?" devoid of content. Updating on the evidence is the exact opposite of faith-as-colloquially-used.

So basically you're saying that anyone who was ever a Christian obviously did not have faith while they were a Christian that God was real?

Also: I was using faith the same way that you say that you have faith in a person. You can update based on evidence to the contrary.

I also disagree with your question being legitimate in the first place. "Does X person or group of people have faith?" without any content whatsoever is simply silly to me. Because I have faith. I don't have faith in a God. I have faith in certain people. And that definition is colloquially used.

Belief and Faith are fairly interchangeable even here Ephiral. I have belief that God exists is the same as I have faith that God exists. I have faith that this person can do this one hard thing is the same as I believe that this person can do this one hard thing. I don't understand how it's not how it's being used here.

Offline Florence

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #140 on: May 02, 2014, 02:45:44 PM »
The problem, Rogue, is that... this still doesn't hold water unless you just use "faith" as another word for "belief" - which is not how it's being used here, is not how it tends to be used generally in my experience, and renders the entire question "Does X person or group of people have faith?" devoid of content. Updating on the evidence is the exact opposite of faith-as-colloquially-used.

I'm sorry, but you are factually wrong here.
Crunchy bits hidden for the disinclined.
Glossing over a lot here, but it's not terribly relevant to the core topic. Feel free to take it to PMs if you want more depth.
P(A)+P(~A)=1. The probability that A is true, and that A is not true, will always equal 1. By extension, anything that makes A less likely makes not-A more likely. Probability is a measure of confidence - so the more strongly you assert your disbelief in God, the more strongly you assert your belief in not-God. P(God)-X=1-(P(~God)+X)

A useful exercise: What does the disbeliever do that the nonbeliever does not? What does the nonbeliever do that the disbeliever does not? What actual, real-world difference is there between these two allegedly-different states?

I meant more that the strict definition of those two statements are not the same, which is a true point. Doubt is not the same as a belief against. Granted, someone who says 'I do not believe in god', generally does believe there is no god, in the sense that they feel the evidence is in favor of there being no god, but when people are using the 'I believe there is no god' definition to argue that it requires faith, or that atheism is a religious belief itself, they tend to mean it more along the lines of being a strong statement of unwavering conviction.

I might just be doing a terrible job of describing my point. My cat waking me up at 3AM by whining incessantly in my ear has probably not done any favors for my ability to coherently convey a point.

I suppose to get to the simple nitty gritty of the point I was trying to make.

Doubting that there is a god is not the same as making the claim that there is not a god.

In that instance the difference would be that one who simply doubts it ("I do not believe in god") is open to new evidence changing their stance, does not necessarily have 'faith' in a belief concerning gods (I hope context makes it clear which of the apparent myriad definitions of faith I'm using?) and is not making a claim, simply rejecting one; whereas someone who asserts that there is no god ("I believe there is no god") would be less receptive (though perhaps not immune) to new evidence, has a position that requires at least some small amount of blind faith, and is making a claim about the existence of a god.

On a practical level, I live my life under the assumption there is no god, because that would seem probable based on the evidence, but I don't make any claims on the matter. I think of someone who actively asserts that there is no god with absolute certainty in roughly the same light as someone who claims there is a god with absolute certainty.

... at any rate, I'll stop rambling here, as I'm not quite sure I'm making my point any clearer... maybe I'll be able to debate more effectively if I can manage to actually get a full night's sleep for once...

Edit: I do want to add, though, I get the gist of what you're saying, and I suppose I concede that you're right in that regard, but... well, if I keep rambling here I'll just be repeating what I said above basically. Technically speaking, I suppose they're the same, but the meaning behind them isn't... if that made any more sense than any of my other ramblings.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 02:49:44 PM by Florence »

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #141 on: May 02, 2014, 03:46:10 PM »
"I do not believe there is a god" is not the same as "I believe there is no god."

Alright, I'm going to call a spade a spade here.

That is utter BS. It is the exact same thing. The only difference is the words used. Do not vs no. And this is the kind of wrangling around with words that ticks me off. You do not get to change the meaning of things to fit what you want.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #142 on: May 02, 2014, 03:49:34 PM »
Um... Is it just me or is this discussion a) going in circles and b) getting a bit hostile?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #143 on: May 02, 2014, 03:52:28 PM »
I meant more that the strict definition of those two statements are not the same, which is a true point. Doubt is not the same as a belief against. Granted, someone who says 'I do not believe in god', generally does believe there is no god, in the sense that they feel the evidence is in favor of there being no god, but when people are using the 'I believe there is no god' definition to argue that it requires faith, or that atheism is a religious belief itself, they tend to mean it more along the lines of being a strong statement of unwavering conviction.
I get what you're saying, but it seems to me that the answer is to address that point, rather than arguing from a position that has extremely hard proof standing against it. I think this is meandering pretty badly, though, so I'll take it to PM.



Alright, I'm going to call a spade a spade here.

That is utter BS. It is the exact same thing. The only difference is the words used. Do not vs no. And this is the kind of wrangling around with words that ticks me off. You do not get to change the meaning of things to fit what you want.

Is it possible that people with different prior understandings could maybe, just maybe, be looking at these things in good faith and arriving at different conclusions from you? Hanlon's law applies, even if it is a bit rude about it.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #144 on: May 02, 2014, 03:54:04 PM »
Opheliac. I have a box. The box says cake. There could be cake, or maybe I'm just using an old box that once had cake.

Do you think there is a cake in this box?

Whats that? You're unconvinced that there is a cake? But lacking a belief in the cake is the same as saying it's not there, so what you're REALLY saying is there is no cake in that box.

See how silly that sounds?


Offline Rogue

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #145 on: May 02, 2014, 03:59:53 PM »
Opheliac. I have a box. The box says cake. There could be cake, or maybe I'm just using an old box that once had cake.

Do you think there is a cake in this box?

Whats that? You're unconvinced that there is a cake? But lacking a belief in the cake is the same as saying it's not there, so what you're REALLY saying is there is no cake in that box.

See how silly that sounds?

The problem wasn't in the no versus do not so much as both have belief in the sentence. Also, I don't believe in god is very different than there is no God. There's a sense of conviction in the second versus the first and also a sense of open mindedness in the first.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #146 on: May 02, 2014, 04:06:35 PM »
Opheliac. I have a box. The box says cake. There could be cake, or maybe I'm just using an old box that once had cake.

Do you think there is a cake in this box?

Whats that? You're unconvinced that there is a cake? But lacking a belief in the cake is the same as saying it's not there, so what you're REALLY saying is there is no cake in that box.

See how silly that sounds?
Is this Schroedinger's cake? No? Then the cake is either there or not there. If I do not think the cake is there, I must think the cake is not there. There is no third option to place bets on.

Alternatively: Open the box. Describe the not-cake-but-also-not-no-cake to me.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #147 on: May 02, 2014, 04:12:20 PM »
I'm aware it's one or the other, but Opheliac seems to be removing lack of an answer from the equation. Yes, it must boil down to 'there is a cake' or 'there is not a cake', but 'I don't know' is a valid position to hold, especially if you can't open the box.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #148 on: May 02, 2014, 04:20:53 PM »
I'm aware it's one or the other, but Opheliac seems to be removing lack of an answer from the equation. Yes, it must boil down to 'there is a cake' or 'there is not a cake', but 'I don't know' is a valid position to hold, especially if you can't open the box.

If we're asking whether someone who has never seen the contents of a box believes there is a cake inside it, then "I don't know" becomes redundant, seeing as they have no way of knowing. They can either believe the evidence suggesting that cake is in the box, or they can not believe it.

And with that I'm butting out. What started as a harmless discussion about personal experiences and how and why they led us to believe certain things has turned into a slinging match regarding the semantics of communication. Frankly, this whole turn of conversation has given me a major headache

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #149 on: May 02, 2014, 04:23:19 PM »
Yeah, I must bow out as well.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #150 on: May 02, 2014, 04:29:02 PM »
I'm aware it's one or the other, but Opheliac seems to be removing lack of an answer from the equation. Yes, it must boil down to 'there is a cake' or 'there is not a cake', but 'I don't know' is a valid position to hold, especially if you can't open the box.
"I don't know" is something you say to insulate yourself from the consequences of failure, not an accurate statement of your expectations of the world. You might not have strong expectations (my own bet would be near 50%, adjusted for what I am able to discern of the box and your personality), but you expect cake or no-cake, and it's highly unlikely your expectations of those are exactly equal.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #151 on: May 02, 2014, 06:32:59 PM »
"I don't know" is something you say to insulate yourself from the consequences of failure, not an accurate statement of your expectations of the world.

"I don't know" is a statement with a long pedigree in fairness.  It's a statement that you are without (a) knowledge(gnosis)

a-gnostic.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #152 on: May 02, 2014, 07:05:50 PM »
"I don't know" is a statement with a long pedigree in fairness.  It's a statement that you are without (a) knowledge(gnosis)

a-gnostic.
Which would be fair for someone who didn't specifically reject that label, and who was unconcerned with accuracy to reality.

Offline Qt

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #153 on: May 02, 2014, 07:08:44 PM »
One could be an agnostic and an atheist at the same time, they are not mutually exclusives. I could say "I believe there's not enough evidence to prove god's existence or lack of existence" and then say "I don't believe in god" and the two would not conflict each other.

Also... saying atheism is a religion is like saying, not playing tennis is a sport. It's like saying abstinence is a form of sex.

At the end of the day trying to equate atheism to religion is just another display of the lack of ability to defend religion, because it's attempting to say "Well religion is bad... but hey atheism is a religion as well, so you're just as bad."

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #154 on: May 02, 2014, 07:11:40 PM »
Which would be fair for someone who didn't specifically reject that label, and who was unconcerned with accuracy to reality.

*shrug*  "I specifically reject this label" and "based on my statements, it is not fair to apply this label to me" are two entirely different statements. 

But I have no interest in pursuing this further.  I thought the point was pretty uncontroversial.  As it isn't, I invoke what shall from this day be known as the "Kythia and Ephiral Compact" to put a point to bed for the sake of happiness.

I'm pretty drunk.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #155 on: May 02, 2014, 07:14:28 PM »
*shrug*  "I specifically reject this label" and "based on my statements, it is not fair to apply this label to me" are two entirely different statements. 

But I have no interest in pursuing this further.  I thought the point was pretty uncontroversial.  As it isn't, I invoke what shall from this day be known as the "Kythia and Ephiral Compact" to put a point to bed for the sake of happiness.

I'm pretty drunk.
I was unclear - what's unfair is rejecting the label while claiming its benefits. If you reject the position of ignorance, you don't get to claim ignorance as a defense.

I have no particular problem with applying labels where they fit.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #156 on: May 02, 2014, 07:19:13 PM »
I was unclear - what's unfair is rejecting the label while claiming its benefits. If you reject the position of ignorance, you don't get to claim ignorance as a defense.

I have no particular problem with applying labels where they fit.

Ah, yeah I had misread you there.  I'd taken "That statement would be fair were it not for the fact that..." My bad.

Kythia and Ephiral Compact not invoked, agreement is secured, resistance continues to be futile.

Offline consortium11

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #157 on: May 03, 2014, 01:42:51 AM »
Um... Is it just me or is this discussion a) going in circles and b) getting a bit hostile?

Welcome to religious discussion threads on E.

Offline Silk

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #158 on: May 03, 2014, 04:32:44 AM »
So, "I don't buy it" is a coherent set of beliefs regarding a divine being?

About as much as being homeless makes you a homeowner maybe.

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #159 on: May 03, 2014, 09:54:31 AM »
My beliefs went from"Whoa...god is awesome he made an entire world and all the people in it! And his son died for me...that was nice of him..to slowly getting older with wait..why did he create an entire universe for just one planet...to wait why do so many people believe in a different god?...to OK this is sort of hinky, too many unexplained questions which was told I am not supposed to ask just have faith because a book told me to.(which by the way to a voracious reader such as myself which my parents encouraged did not sit right) to OK I am seeing people doing a lot of fucked up things in the name of god,Maybe this is not such a great belief system...to OK this is sort of bull shit and people who believe are idiots...to where I am now...OK so some people believe in god...we now have a pope who seems like a pretty decent guy and can accept people will not follow the church and still be good people. And I don't care much any more about what religion people follow so long as they are not douche-nozzles. Those that are about religion though and direct the nozzle in my religion will get back just as much as they give.

So i went from wide eyed and believing to questioning things but still believing...to not sure any more to wow religious people are stupid (yes i had this phase not proud of it but I will still admit it happened) to OK religions happen so long as it does not hurt anyone worship to your hearts content and call me after you get out of mass,temple,synagogue or wherever you go and we can hang out. I suppose I sort of evolved into it.

Evolution...something I was told by a religious douche-nozzle was made up by evil atheistic scientists to make people lose faith in god...Yes I am serious...she told me that the dinosaur bones and tons of evidence that they existed was all made up to test their faith. Wow.I explained to her yes we shared 98 percent of our DNA with monkeys...and the reason monkeys exist today is because they took a different evolutionary road than humans. And that we also share 33% of our DNA with daffodils...this does not mean I am going to spontaneously start producing my own food from exposure to sun light(although that would be sort of awesome to be able to do that) It just means that maybe I should look at the evidence rather than just go well the book says so..I also questioned her about how the book was written...apparently he told humans to write it. I asked ok how did he call up on the holy hot line? No he spoke through burning shrubbery and gave people visions...Now I am sure in a dry country burning bushes could not be all that rare..and that the way people ate and drank back then combined with heat stroke..I am sure they saw lots of things..Doesn't mean we should follow them to the letter. I had a schizophrenic friend who before he was diagnosed had a delusion that if he got naked every one would get naked and there would be world peace. Nice thought but we could not let him go out and spread the word since its sort of illegal to be naked in public and it was the middle of January in Canada. This does not mean he was a prophet.

So really what I am saying is...we need to stop following a book that really has parts like Deuteronomy and Leviticus and its OK to follow them to the letter and not be called a psycho? If you are good with not following these books good for you. Apparently you are a rational human being who can think for themselves and have faith in your life.But if you are...yikes.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #160 on: May 03, 2014, 10:29:02 AM »
So really what I am saying is...we need to stop following a book that really has parts like Deuteronomy and Leviticus and its OK to follow them to the letter and not be called a psycho? If you are good with not following these books good for you. Apparently you are a rational human being who can think for themselves and have faith in your life.But if you are...yikes.

What gives you the right to tell other people what they should and should not believe in? Honestly asking here. Do you know for absolute fact what is best for every single person on this planet? No? Then you shouldn't make broad sweeping statements like above.

I've met some awesome christians who live their lives as close to the teaching of Jesus as they can. I've met some shitty christians that overlook all of the good teachings and focus on judging everyone not like them. I've met some totally awesome satanists and I've met some who call themselves satanists when they have no clue what that means. I've met atheists that I proudly call friend because they understand the concept of live and let live. I've met atheists that I'd dearly love to cram my shoe down their throat for the attitudes and hate they spew towards anyone who believes in an organized religion.

The point is, you show just as much a judgmental attitude towards people of faith as some of those people of faith show towards your decision to not believe. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Offline Aiden

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #161 on: May 03, 2014, 12:11:33 PM »
I don't know what to classify myself, despite being raised in a Catholic home. Even before I learned about science, I thought religion was bullshit. Why spend my Sundays in school and church! It was really cemented in when I had to study for my first communion. I treated the class as a history lesson, learned the prayers and could recite them. I was actually pretty good on that, but the nuns still smacked my hands when I was caught reading something else (despite knowing the lesson, I read ahead).

Then I started learning about dinosaurs and science, planets and about the first scientist who were jailed/killed etc by the church. I also asked questions, got nothing but told to believe.

I believe there are gods, something of a higher power. But I don't believe in the man written scripture/rules on how to worship them.

The biggest bullshit about all this, I need to pretend to care about all this shit again. A church wedding is very important to my SO. So here we go again.

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #162 on: May 03, 2014, 02:13:06 PM »
 Iniquitous Opheliac did you actually read these two books of the bible? If you want to follow them then you will see GLBT people as abominations..other things that the bible lists as abominations are as follows
 touching/eating anything with “impurity”, like dead bodies,  sperm, unclean animals (camels, rabbits, pigs, four footed animals that are not cattle), any sea life without scales or legs (catfish, lobster, shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels etc.), certain birds that eat carrion.(mmm evil sea food...sinfully delicious and morticians are going to hell..as well as gasp! bacon is evil...well it would explain why its so tasty..)
customs associated with the worship of  anything other-than-God idols (hmm...)
any action a person does that is not done in the name of God (which can pretty much be described as a lot of every day things...I am sure they are out there but...who really says to themselves..I am vacumming in the name of Jesus)
atheists(umm yeah)
one that departs from God (anyone who converts or becomes agnostic or atheist?)
those that lie(umm there is this story about a guy with a stone and a glass house...)
people that cause trouble in a community(protesting things like war and such...eeeevil!)
doing things for yourself and not God (marrying someone outside of your religion..standing up for your gay child even if the church says shun them...this...is apparently wrong?)
people that turn from hearing God’s Word (liiiike....athiests?)
sacrificed meat eaten on the third day instead of being burned(umm we have fridges now a days but also left overs tend not to last in my house.)
men having sex with men(love is love people)
any superstitious relic(luckey rabbits foot anyone? Those lucky socks that football player never washes...sort of gross but...evil? really?)
an imperfect animal offering (umm..I kind of like my animals alive thanks.)
anyone who visits taro card or palm readers or who reads horoscopes (dam you Cosmo! you sent me to hell!)
wearing clothes of the opposite sex (pants for women, kilts for men–OUT!)
bringing money earned from prostitution from selling yourself into your home (yes I know some prostitutes and I am not judging them for it, I am assuming that strippers would fall in this category as well.)
remarrying a former spouse (should not have divorced in the first place..eeeevil)
making images or idols (those places who make tourist trinkets of tiki gods and Buddha and such..evil!)
having the idols of certain gods in your possession (the decorative statue of Buddha? Evil!)
prayers not offered in faith(This never happens. Really....right?)
breaking promises(please tell me you have never done this ever..and I will smile and nod)
lending money with interest (so...banks and pretty much any financial institution are so hell bound..hmm..does this mean I don't have to pay my credit cards?)
having sex with a menstruating woman(we started all the evil eating the apple that the talking snake said to...and our uterus's is where we keep our evil apparently?)
things done to gain the popularity with others(high school anyone?)

and things that are forbidden are mixing seeds in fields, trimming hair and beards, interbreeding animals, mixing fabrics in my clothing and  letting disabled people come to the holy place.(yes these are all in the bible)

And you can be killed in the name of god for the following.KILLED...not just glared at and looked down on...Killed

denying God and saying He does not exist ( I had better hide)
getting too close to the Tabernacle when you were not supposed to be there (done this too)
not observing the Sabbath ( I like my pay check and even when I went to church I still had to work unless god offered to pay my rent for me.)
disobeying one’s parents (umm I was a teenager and this is sort of a requirement.)
cursing or hitting one’s parents (didn't do this one I admit but since my dad teaches karate and my brothers were into it sparring I suppose would count as hitting)
sexual intercourse with a woman that has her period (yes done this too)
losing your virginity outside “marriage” (umm yeah 17 did this one)
adultery (have not done this although there's these things called divorces they have now a days so do people really deserve death for this?)
being a false prophet (yeah never really did this)
male homosexual sex ( I lack a penis but I have been with women but again..love is love.)
witchcraft (had a room-mate do this well...sort of.)
worshipping other gods (friends do this,buddists,muslims and pagens)
using God’s name in vain(ooh yes do this one all the time because lets face it saying dagnabbit just does not cut it at times)
bestiality(yeah I love my cats but not this way)
a woman who does not cry out when being raped (seriously?!)


So while some of these are not the best things to be do...really the bible thinks its perfectly OK to kill these people. If you had bothered to read the very first post...which I started this thread..I have Christian friends..I have Muslim friends...also gay and tans friends...I am judging people who think the above is OK. This is messed up beyond all question. I don't like the religious types who use the bible to be bigoted ass holes...and I know lots of atheists who are ass holes about it. Following a book that was written a couple of thousand years ago and follow it to the letter is a bit extreme. Are you going to stone your neighbour because he goes to work on Sundays? Oh lets burn that lady at the stake because she is Buddhist.  People who want to use it to do good...great have at it...but the ones who use those parts"Points up* and yes there are still parts of the world who will actually follow through with these things in this day and age..don't tell me I don't have a good reason to roll my eyes and wonder what is wrong with religions that allow this sort of things to happen in the name of a loving god. I will most enthusiastically be pissy to people who call my Muslim friend a terrorist and my trans lady friend an abomination when they dare to try and use a book to make these wonderful people feel less about themselves.(yes both of these things have happened) Also I admit...I like some of the bible...there are some pretty cool storys there...like angels and demons..some of the saints too.

 Also I have a pewter miraculous medal that was my grandmothers that I keep safe..not because its a religious medal..but because it was my grandmothers.She was catholic..and died of cervical cancer because back when she was diagnosed with it a hysterectomy which would have most likely saved her life or at the very least stop it from spreading...was considered "birthcontrol" So could not be done. So apparently the cancer was not birth control but the treatment is?Oh and this happened in 1975..my grandmother was 34..my age when she died after suffering for almost a year and then her heart failed and she went mercifully in her sleep.So yes...some things about religion is to me ridiculous..but the people who quietly and happily live their lives with out shoving it in people faces no..I have no problem with them...the ones who take things too far and want to"save my soul" whether I want it or not are the ones I have a problem with. So don't tell me I judge people because they are religious..I also don't like racists and people who think they can"catch the gay." child molesters..(catholic priests anyone) and people who beat animals. Am i grouping them and being wrong about that as well? Or is there just a real good reason to do all these things? So perhaps you should read the whole thread before you claim that I am just a bigot hating on all religions.I have my reasons. I am sure your a good person who loves your family ,pets and whatever else you hold dear.  So don't look down your nose at me from one post is all I ask.


Aiden congratulations on your engagement and if a church wedding makes your future spouse happy then your a good person for letting them have it. My husband pretty much let me do what I wanted with our wedding...he smiled and said give me a suit and tell me where to stand. I am the only girl in my family so my mom insisted on a wedding with me wearing a big poofy dress.(although she was not happy i wore combat boots under it)where as I would have been happy with a justice of the peace. We do funny things for the ones we love. I am not a fan of the rocky movies, UFC ,or first person shooters but my hubby loves them and I don't complain because it makes him happy. And I am sure he does not understand my playing D&D every week and blasting aqua while I clean.(yes I like Aqua..its upbeat and catchy lol)
« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 02:17:57 PM by thesunmaid »

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #163 on: May 03, 2014, 02:31:20 PM »
IO, I'm pretty sure you go throughout your day rejecting the opinions of homophobes and racists as wrong. Who are you to say that they are absolutely wrong?

See how it doesn't work when I twist it around?

You can't just go "Oh, well you said this one belief is bad, so you're making sweeping generalizations and don't know everything anyway" whenever you see someone make any kind of judgement. We judge things all the time. Oh, stoning adulterers is a moral punishment? Well that's not good. There, I just judged someones belief as wrong. Would you contest my right to do so?

You can't really get away from this, so lashing out at anyone who passes judgement on a belief is going to have you chasing after everyone who so much as speaks. Instead of pinning them down and demanding on what authority they pass judgement, why not question why they judged it so and attempt to change their mind? It would be a lot more productive.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #164 on: May 03, 2014, 02:34:19 PM »
Despite the fact I am not christian I have read the bible. Which means I have also read how the new testament and Jesus' death on the cross seals a new covenant with mankind and makes the old covenant of the old testament obsolete. The only "rules" from the old testament that should still be followed is the ten commandments.

That means your rant is pointless and you didn't research what you are judging people on.

And please do not ever say I believe someone of a different sexual persuasion should die. I take extreme offense to that since I most assuredly do not wish my cousin or my daughter dead.

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #165 on: May 03, 2014, 02:48:33 PM »
never mind...

« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 03:03:38 PM by thesunmaid »

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #166 on: May 03, 2014, 02:52:22 PM »
That was directed at IO Sun, you've done no such thing.

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #167 on: May 03, 2014, 02:56:24 PM »
Smiles and offers cupcakes and hugs to sabby and anyone else who would like them...my mom made them and they are orgasmic.I am so going to need bigger pants if she keeps baking.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #168 on: May 03, 2014, 02:56:44 PM »
Let's reverse this.

I despise all atheist because there are some who are absolute assholes about what they believe. Doesn't matter that there are some out there that are not like that. They should not be allowed to believe how they want. Everything they get their beliefs from should be removed. Banned. Outlawed. I get so pissed when they challenge what I believe!  I deliberately insult their beliefs the moment they even try to talk to me about them.

Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? I mean - you surely aren't one of those judgmental assholes who mocks and ridicules those of religious beliefs right?  You don't demand they be deprived of something important to them right?

It's easy to think you are in the right until you step to the other side and see how it looks to others.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #169 on: May 03, 2014, 03:02:26 PM »
Ophelia, just... no. Sorry, but I simply won't engage you while you're abusing Strawmen like this.

Offline ThesunmaidTopic starter

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #170 on: May 03, 2014, 03:10:18 PM »
Ok this started out with me being upset that I politely declined someone offering to help me accept Jesus into my heart and he went off on me....and now its just degenerated into a snipe fest and to anyone who has read this...I posted a former post in anger and I was wrong to do so..But...yes I have my reasons and they are mine...I am going to stop and just focus on the good. I am sick of negative and angry. We have a new and awesome pope...he seems like a genuinely good man..and while it will not drag me back to church...they are turning things around and I am happy to see this..I am not trying to mock anyone's beliefs...this was sharing my own..apparently this was a mistake and next time I have an opinion about anything religious I will simply not bother.E is a wonderful place and if I made anyone feel badly.. Sorry to have bothered or insulted anyone...I started this as a way to get it off my chest. Maybe show a few people that there's nothing wrong with being different from others religiously..Sorry but I just don't have the time or patience to keep up with this any more.

Offline Valthazar

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #171 on: May 03, 2014, 03:12:25 PM »
For what it's worth, I actually just got back home from a church event (I'm not Christian, but I volunteer there), and we were organizing a vendor sale to raise money for charity.  A lot of my friends who are Christian are part of the church for mostly the sense of community and purpose.  That's also the main reason I like to help them out.  They respect me for who I am, largely because I respect them for who they are.

I think if you look outside of politics, and the religious talking heads, this animosity really isn't common.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #172 on: May 03, 2014, 03:20:45 PM »
Despite the fact I am not christian I have read the bible. Which means I have also read how the new testament and Jesus' death on the cross seals a new covenant with mankind and makes the old covenant of the old testament obsolete. The only "rules" from the old testament that should still be followed is the ten commandments.

That means your rant is pointless and you didn't research what you are judging people on.

EDIT: On second thought, my tone was a bit harsh here. I apologise.

That may be as a technical matter, but in practical terms, the Levitical Holiness Code is still a huge problem.
(Edit: Fixed wording issue.)

Are there good Christians? Oh, hell yes. Does the arc of the Bible, taken as a whole, bend toward justice and love? Oh, hell yes. Are the specific books cited still a huge problem and worthy of rejection and condemnation? Oh, hell yes.



Let's reverse this.

I despise all atheist
Stop. Stop right there. Exactly what are you reversing when you say this? Because, y'know, nobody has said this here about any group of believers. This is a ridiculously dickish strawman.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 11:49:17 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Oniya

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #173 on: May 03, 2014, 03:24:28 PM »
Y'know, y'all have driven the original poster out of the thread?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #174 on: May 03, 2014, 04:39:52 PM »
Ok this started out with me being upset that I politely declined someone offering to help me accept Jesus into my heart and he went off on me

I suspect part of the problem, then, is that this went in PROC not B&U.  There is perhaps more of an expectation that things are offered for discussion here than there, and obviously religion is a contentious issue.  Last time you posted a similar story here in PROC this exact thing happened as well, that may have also led to people thinking this was more than just an innocent discussion of you being upset.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #175 on: May 03, 2014, 11:32:37 PM »
EDIT: On second thought, my tone was a bit harsh here. I apologise.

That may be as a technical matter, but in practical terms, the Levitical Holiness Code is still Levitical a problem.

Are there good Christians? Oh, hell yes. Does the arc of the Bible, taken as a whole, bend toward justice and love? Oh, hell yes. Are the specific books cited still a huge problem and worthy of rejection and condemnation? Oh, hell yes.

I'm going to go off on a tangent here. Leviticus makes sense when you put it into context. To a desert-dwelling tribe some thirty-five hundred years ago, they were worried about population growth, tribal identity and disease management. They may not have couched it in those terms, but that's basically what they were doing.

Gay sex is an abomination, because they needed babies, and lots of them, in order for the tribe to survive. Sperm wasted was chance at babies wasted. Polygamy was fairly common in the Bible, so two women having sex didn't seem like that big of a deal, since it was possible that multiple wives would be in the bed at the same time. For practicality reasons alone, this would have been a pain in the ass to declare anathema.

Touching the dead, eating certain foods (some of which we now know today, thanks to science and observation, cause debilitating illnesses like food poisoning when cooked improperly), and bodily functions were regulated under Levitical law for the purpose of trying to minimize exposure to deadly pathogens. Even the parts about women menstruating could be construed as this, because I'm fairly positive that early civilizations didn't quite grasp the concept of "she's not pregnant this month, so she's not really sick, she's just shedding her uterine lining because she didn't need it", and segregation during this period was for cleanliness reasons.

The bits about how to dress and groom were equally important. "Look like this, not like this. This is good, because we all look like this. That's bad, because that's how our enemies look, and we might not be able to tell you apart from them if it came down to a fight". And the bits about God's will and appeasing him with sacrifice were mostly about making sure the people stayed in line and did as they were told.

Because the tribe had to survive.

The problem with Leviticus now is that it's Holy Scripture, and people cherry-pick the shit they like from it without regard to the rest. My favorite Levitical meme is the one that quotes 18:22 on a bicep tattoo. I think it's hilarious, because of Leviticus 19:28 - "Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos."

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #176 on: May 04, 2014, 12:00:19 AM »
Well... that's the core problem with "traditional morality" in general. Moral codes age poorly - it's pretty much a given that any historic code you look at will codify somethng we now recognize as immoral as a good thing, and I have no doubt future generations will have similar issues with the codes of today. A morality which does not change and update as new information becomes available is almost inevitably going to support immorality in one form or another, and so we should be consciously and deliberately updating or replacing them on a regular basis. And... well, treating them as holy is extremely harmful to that exercise.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #177 on: May 04, 2014, 12:08:27 AM »
I'm going to go off on a tangent here. Leviticus makes sense when you put it into context. To a desert-dwelling tribe some thirty-five hundred years ago, they were worried about population growth, tribal identity and disease management. They may not have couched it in those terms, but that's basically what they were doing.

Gay sex is an abomination, because they needed babies, and lots of them, in order for the tribe to survive. Sperm wasted was chance at babies wasted. Polygamy was fairly common in the Bible, so two women having sex didn't seem like that big of a deal, since it was possible that multiple wives would be in the bed at the same time. For practicality reasons alone, this would have been a pain in the ass to declare anathema.

Touching the dead, eating certain foods (some of which we now know today, thanks to science and observation, cause debilitating illnesses like food poisoning when cooked improperly), and bodily functions were regulated under Levitical law for the purpose of trying to minimize exposure to deadly pathogens. Even the parts about women menstruating could be construed as this, because I'm fairly positive that early civilizations didn't quite grasp the concept of "she's not pregnant this month, so she's not really sick, she's just shedding her uterine lining because she didn't need it", and segregation during this period was for cleanliness reasons.

The bits about how to dress and groom were equally important. "Look like this, not like this. This is good, because we all look like this. That's bad, because that's how our enemies look, and we might not be able to tell you apart from them if it came down to a fight". And the bits about God's will and appeasing him with sacrifice were mostly about making sure the people stayed in line and did as they were told.

Because the tribe had to survive.

The problem with Leviticus now is that it's Holy Scripture, and people cherry-pick the shit they like from it without regard to the rest. My favorite Levitical meme is the one that quotes 18:22 on a bicep tattoo. I think it's hilarious, because of Leviticus 19:28 - "Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos."

In this context, you have a very good point. Most of the laws of the Old Testament were in relation to these very factors. No different to when a bizarre 'new' illness begins to spread; local, national and international medical authorities encourage certain measures to try to contain the illness until the cause, and therefore the prevention and the cure, can be determined.

The Bird and Swine Flu pandemics of recent years are a perfect example. People were advised to avoid travel to heavily infected parts of the world, it became commonplace in some countries to wear surgical masks if leaving the home and governments placed pressure on schools and workplaces to change their policies to effectively force into quarantine anyone who was suspected to have come into contact with the relative viruses.

So, as archaic as they seem, I have to agree that Leviticus was intended as a set of guidelines to ensure that the society at the time (and the people who made up that society) were kept as healthy as possible.

I will disagree slightly with one point, at being that people at the time didn't know that menstruating was not a symptom of serious illness. At that point, mankind would have been able to work that much out. I think the rule of 'not knowing' a woman during her menses is for a different reason.

Looking at the context of the term 'knew her not' as used in the New Testament, this phrase is used to describe the fact that, even after Joseph and Mary were officially and legally married, Joseph didn't 'consumamate' the marriage until after Jesus was born (and even then, it's not truly known if he ever did). So the phrase 'he took Mary to be his wife, but knew her not' means, quite simply, that Joseph and Mary didn't have sex for almost a year, probably even longer.

Remembering that in the eyes of most cultures at the time, sex was purely for reproductive purposes. After several hundred years as a fledgling nation, the Israelites would have noticed that women mostly conceived during a particular phase of their menstrual cycle, and simply banned them from sex on the days when it was known they couldn't possibly conceive a child. I rather think this is what the Bible refers to when they advise men to 'not know' the women during their period.

And just from a slightly misogynistic point of view, even without that rule, I think we can agree that most men are well advised to give their girlfriends/partners/wives a wide berth during that particular week anyway ;)

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #178 on: May 04, 2014, 12:26:00 AM »
I will disagree slightly with one point, at being that people at the time didn't know that menstruating was not a symptom of serious illness. At that point, mankind would have been able to work that much out. I think the rule of 'not knowing' a woman during her menses is for a different reason.
Well, yeah; the laws can be broadly divided into categories f "practical, for surviving as desert nomads" and "ritual, for reinforcing both the unity of the tribe and the authority of this law and its interpreters". Menstruation, single-fiber clothing with tassels at the corners, sidelocks, etc were all about the latter; in particular, menstruation is about ritual cleanliness, which is a topic that is fairly heavily woven throughout the old testament. There is occasionally some blurring of lines between ritual and practical cleanliness - kosher food rules, for instance, fall into both categories - but it's fairly easy to see the threads of ritual and in particular ritual cleanliness if you go looking.

Old Testament identity appears, to me at least, to have been about setting the Israelites apart from the cultures they found hemselves interacting with and immersed in, while New Testament identity appears very much about welcoming all comers to the tribe.

(I am not a Biblical scholar by any stretch, and will gladly defer to any corrections, but the above seems broadly correct to me.)

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #179 on: May 04, 2014, 01:08:12 AM »
I will disagree slightly with one point, at being that people at the time didn't know that menstruating was not a symptom of serious illness. At that point, mankind would have been able to work that much out. I think the rule of 'not knowing' a woman during her menses is for a different reason.

Just a slight correction, because you misunderstood me (because I was vaguer than I wanted to be): I didn't say they didn't know menstruation wasn't a sign of disease. I said they "hadn't quite grasped that" a woman was not necessarily sick. A little more extreme better-safe-than-sorry route than modern methods. :) Blood-borne illnesses were probably known, as some of them are pretty ancient, and the risk of transmission drops when no one can accidentally touch menses. Segregating women for cleanliness in this respect was disease control, even if it seemed a natural function of the human body.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #180 on: May 04, 2014, 01:25:10 AM »
There is a reason the old testament, and thus the covenant between Jehovah and man, was replaced with the new testament. Sacrifices were no longer needed because Jesus’ blood sufficed, thus cute and cuddly lambs and hulking bulls were saved as much as man was. All of the old testament eye for an eye crap and warmonger in his name were replaced because Jesus’ message was a message of love and tolerance (except for those in the temple).

As was pointed out above, a lot of the laws in the old testament were there for a reason but are not relevant now and really shouldn’t be used for more than a history lesson on what life was like during that time.

Trying to say the whole of the religion is bad based on text that isn’t even relevant anymore is, well, silly. Especially when all it takes is a little research to find out that the books in the bible were not chosen by Jehovah. Matter of fact, there are quite a number of gospels that are not included in the bible. It was the council of Nicea that chose which books would go in the bible and become ’canon’ so christians aren’t even getting the full picture (though I’d not recommend trying to tell them that).

I do get it about getting upset at having someone else’s beliefs pushed on you. I live in the bible belt, I hear it all the time. But I still do not understand the stance of absolute hate - and yes, that is exactly what comes across in rants like this. Not aggravation with a situation. But unadulterated hate for something that is not agreed with. Yes, some followers go way above and beyond to make life miserable for others. But for every one of those kinds of people there are hundreds that don’t. The comments of saying that people should stop following the bible because of irrelevant books in the bible totally ignores the absolutely beautiful messages of the second half of the book - you know, the parts of the book that says love everyone, help those around you. Show kindness and compassion. Live an honest life. The things we as humans SHOULD be doing.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #181 on: May 04, 2014, 01:49:41 AM »
Well, yeah; the laws can be broadly divided into categories f "practical, for surviving as desert nomads" and "ritual, for reinforcing both the unity of the tribe and the authority of this law and its interpreters". Menstruation, single-fiber clothing with tassels at the corners, sidelocks, etc were all about the latter; in particular, menstruation is about ritual cleanliness, which is a topic that is fairly heavily woven throughout the old testament. There is occasionally some blurring of lines between ritual and practical cleanliness - kosher food rules, for instance, fall into both categories - but it's fairly easy to see the threads of ritual and in particular ritual cleanliness if you go looking.

Old Testament identity appears, to me at least, to have been about setting the Israelites apart from the cultures they found hemselves interacting with and immersed in, while New Testament identity appears very much about welcoming all comers to the tribe.

(I am not a Biblical scholar by any stretch, and will gladly defer to any corrections, but the above seems broadly correct to me.)

These are the kinds of arguments I love to see in a debate :)

Gushes aside, it could also be argued that particular clothing or hairstyles were for practical as well as for ritual. If you're wandering around in the desert for 80 years (remember, the Israelites, upon leaving Egypt, took forty years to reach the borders of Canaan but were then ordered back into the desert for another forty years), you want to be wearing clothing that will a) keep the sand from getting into your body because that is just uncomfortable, and b) not make you too hot. Tassels can help hold garments down during a sandstorm (a weak argument I know, but bear with me). Styling your hair a particular way can make it less of an inconvenience during a sandstorm and also help manage such nasties as lice and ticks, which love to live in our hair.

I'm not a biblical scholar either, but I'm absolutely fascinated by ancient Mediterranean history, having studied almost obsessively since I was little. I look at the books of the Old Testament with the eye of a historian reviewing a particular record or archaeological find; I say, based on existing knowledge as well as this new evidence that A, B and C are probable, D is possible but unlikely and E and F are complete and utter rubbish.

Strip away the visions of God and the apparent 'higher purpose' of the Israelites, and the Old Testament is essentially a History Textbook with a social code attached Most of the stories are probable even if unproven for the most part. And like the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Persians etc, the Israelites associated many of these stories with the being(s) that they believed to be in charge of the universe, adding a moral/purpose to each tale for good measure so that the story instilled in its students the need to behave according to the ideals set out in the aforementioned code.

Offline consortium11

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #182 on: May 04, 2014, 02:15:55 AM »
Matter of fact, there are quite a number of gospels that are not included in the bible. It was the council of Nicea that chose which books would go in the bible and become ’canon’ so christians aren’t even getting the full picture (though I’d not recommend trying to tell them that).

This is a bit of a misconception. The topic of Biblical canon wasn't really dealt with at the first Council of Nicea (in fact from the records we have it was barely mentioned). Instead the major issue Nicea dealt with was the divinity of Christ and what form this divinity took (largely to deal with Arianism) which was dealt with via a creed (and at most expunged one statement) and what amounted to essentially administration issues. It was the Council of Carthage in 397 which dealt with Biblical canon, although our records of it are fairly incomplete. That said, there's evidence that this was in essence a codification of what was already basic practice.

That said, on the wider point, isn't the doctrine here that in the same way the "official" gospel writers were inspired by God (so essentially wrote with the voice of God and thus the gospels became the Word of God) that those who made the decision as to which gospels to view as the Word of God (be it at Carthage or elsewhere) were also inspired by God and thus made the "right" choice?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #183 on: May 04, 2014, 02:48:53 AM »
There is a reason the old testament, and thus the covenant between Jehovah and man, was replaced with the new testament. Sacrifices were no longer needed because Jesus’ blood sufficed, thus cute and cuddly lambs and hulking bulls were saved as much as man was. All of the old testament eye for an eye crap and warmonger in his name were replaced because Jesus’ message was a message of love and tolerance (except for those in the temple).

The problem here is that the Old Testament wasn't replaced with the New Testament. It may have been intended to be, the New Testament may have said it  was, but even the most cursory glance at the landscape of fundagelical Christianity will show you that (EDIT: some) Old Testament morality is very much alive and well.

As was pointed out above, a lot of the laws in the old testament were there for a reason but are not relevant now and really shouldn’t be used for more than a history lesson on what life was like during that time.

Trying to say the whole of the religion is bad based on text that isn’t even relevant anymore is, well, silly. Especially when all it takes is a little research to find out that the books in the bible were not chosen by Jehovah. Matter of fact, there are quite a number of gospels that are not included in the bible. It was the council of Nicea that chose which books would go in the bible and become ’canon’ so christians aren’t even getting the full picture (though I’d not recommend trying to tell them that).
Here's the thing, though: thesunmaid never said that the whole religion was bad. She said that people should stop following specific demonstrably faulty moral guidelines. Whiile I do not speak for her, I would be extremely surprised if she had any particular issue with, say, Fred Clark's brand of Christianity.

I do get it about getting upset at having someone else’s beliefs pushed on you. I live in the bible belt, I hear it all the time. But I still do not understand the stance of absolute hate - and yes, that is exactly what comes across in rants like this. Not aggravation with a situation. But unadulterated hate for something that is not agreed with. Yes, some followers go way above and beyond to make life miserable for others. But for every one of those kinds of people there are hundreds that don’t. The comments of saying that people should stop following the bible because of irrelevant books in the bible totally ignores the absolutely beautiful messages of the second half of the book - you know, the parts of the book that says love everyone, help those around you. Show kindness and compassion. Live an honest life. The things we as humans SHOULD be doing.
The only reason I can see that "absolute", "unadulterated hate" might come across in thesunmaid's posts is because you are unprepared to see an atheist's position any other way. There is frustration there, yes. There is condemnation of frankly shitty morals. But you seem to be forgetting that she explained, at length in the opening post, that she had no particular problem with religion that was not hateful and intrusive.

(There is an interesting discussion on the basically agreeable moral principles of the New Testament and whether it actually contains a good moral code, but that is a separate topic.)



These are the kinds of arguments I love to see in a debate :)

Gushes aside, it could also be argued that particular clothing or hairstyles were for practical as well as for ritual. If you're wandering around in the desert for 80 years (remember, the Israelites, upon leaving Egypt, took forty years to reach the borders of Canaan but were then ordered back into the desert for another forty years), you want to be wearing clothing that will a) keep the sand from getting into your body because that is just uncomfortable, and b) not make you too hot. Tassels can help hold garments down during a sandstorm (a weak argument I know, but bear with me). Styling your hair a particular way can make it less of an inconvenience during a sandstorm and also help manage such nasties as lice and ticks, which love to live in our hair.
This strikes me as a weak position. Tassels are ornamental; straps allowing clothing to quickly and easily be cinched tight, and especiallyscarves that could easily cover the nose and mouth, are the sorts of things I would expect to see from people optimizing for a sandstorm. Similarly, short hair, not long curly sidelocks and a full beard, is more conducive to hygiene and less conducive to whipping in the wind.

Strip away the visions of God and the apparent 'higher purpose' of the Israelites, and the Old Testament is essentially a History Textbook with a social code attached Most of the stories are probable even if unproven for the most part. And like the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, the Persians etc, the Israelites associated many of these stories with the being(s) that they believed to be in charge of the universe, adding a moral/purpose to each tale for good measure so that the story instilled in its students the need to behave according to the ideals set out in the aforementioned code.
Ehhh... not as much as you think. The accuracy of the names attached to the stories is spotty, never mind the stories themselves, and last I heard there was a simmering debate among historians of the era as to whether Jesus of Nazareth's existence could even be confirmed from primary sources.

This is not to say that the books contain no truth (there is truth in them, and not all of it about things that happened), but that there was no real division between "history" and "myth" back then, which means we can't really trust them to paint an accurate picture.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 03:02:57 AM by Ephiral »

Offline ladia2287

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #184 on: May 04, 2014, 03:46:02 AM »
Ehhh... not as much as you think. The accuracy of the names attached to the stories is spotty, never mind the stories themselves, and last I heard there was a simmering debate among historians of the era as to whether Jesus of Nazareth's existence could even be confirmed from primary sources.

This is not to say that the books contain no truth (there is truth in them, and not all of it about things that happened), but that there was no real division between "history" and "myth" back then, which means we can't really trust them to paint an accurate picture.

Note I said the stories were probable. There isn't enough evidence either way to say whether they did occur or not, but culturally and historically, it is reasonable to say that there might be a grain of truth to them. It is also reasonable to assert that culturally, the stories of the Old Testament would have been treated as a historical reference by the Israelites.

Also, with regard to my clothing reference, my main argument was in relation to the instruction to wear 'single-fibre clothing with tassels on the corners', as mentioned in a previous post. My comment about the tassels was a side comment, and it should be noted that the tassels referred to in this rule and the tassels we think of in a modern sense are not the same thing. But back to the initial point of that particular argument, single fibre cloth breathes more easily than thicker fabrics and so it is easier to keep cool when wearing them.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #185 on: May 04, 2014, 06:54:47 AM »
This is a bit of a misconception. The topic of Biblical canon wasn't really dealt with at the first Council of Nicea (in fact from the records we have it was barely mentioned). Instead the major issue Nicea dealt with was the divinity of Christ and what form this divinity took (largely to deal with Arianism) which was dealt with via a creed (and at most expunged one statement) and what amounted to essentially administration issues. It was the Council of Carthage in 397 which dealt with Biblical canon, although our records of it are fairly incomplete. That said, there's evidence that this was in essence a codification of what was already basic practice.

The synods of Carthage aren't ecumenical and their canon isn't binding on anyone - they're little more than "meetings where some stuff was said" with no more weight than the numerous other early canons.  De jure listing of the canon wasn't until Trent, though there was definitely a de facto acceptance long before then. 

Ehhh... not as much as you think. The accuracy of the names attached to the stories is spotty, never mind the stories themselves, and last I heard there was a simmering debate among historians of the era as to whether Jesus of Nazareth's existence could even be confirmed from primary sources.

Mythicism is very much a minor position.  Calling it a simmering debate is overstating it a little, it's a minority strand not accepted by the mainstream.  Acknowledging it isn't on "teach the controversy" levels, but there's still not much of a debate. More here

Also, mythicism is one of those areas like Quantum Physics that just plain attracts nutjobs.  Certainly not all mythicist scholars are nutjobs - I've mentioned before I have a lot of time for Richard Carrier - but the tinfoil hat brigade to tend to taint the entire field.

EDIT: Sources added
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 07:23:31 AM by Kythia »

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #186 on: May 04, 2014, 09:47:07 AM »
She said that people should stop following specific demonstrably faulty moral guidelines.

Actually, she said ...

Quote
So really what I am saying is...we need to stop following a book that really has parts like Deuteronomy and Leviticus and its OK to follow them to the letter and not be called a psycho? If you are good with not following these books good for you. Apparently you are a rational human being who can think for themselves and have faith in your life.But if you are...yikes.

Which is also an insult towards people who do believe the bible is the infallible word of God.

The only reason I can see that "absolute", "unadulterated hate" might come across in thesunmaid's posts is because you are unprepared to see an atheist's position any other way. There is frustration there, yes. There is condemnation of frankly shitty morals. But you seem to be forgetting that she explained, at length in the opening post, that she had no particular problem with religion that was not hateful and intrusive.

And yet I've read another thread thesunmaid had where she actually reveled in the fact that she and a friend openly mocked and ridiculed a christian. (thread found here: https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=184284.0 ) Not a far stretch for me to read this thread and see it as yet another instance of her spewing hate about something she doesn't like. If this were the first post she had ever made about it I'd have taken her explanation that she didn't have a problem with christianity. However, when I've already read her posting ridicule towards christians I'm not going to buy her saying now that she has no issue with the christian religion. It's called trying to defend against any potential backlash.

Note I said the stories were probable. There isn't enough evidence either way to say whether they did occur or not, but culturally and historically, it is reasonable to say that there might be a grain of truth to them. It is also reasonable to assert that culturally, the stories of the Old Testament would have been treated as a historical reference by the Israelites.

They've found ancient Sumerian texts that tell the same stories as the bible does (the great flood comes to mind) and that seems to imply that the stories are parables and not grounded in truth. It also implies that the Israelites were just repeating the stories they have heard before and crediting it to their deity.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #187 on: May 04, 2014, 09:51:36 AM »
Which is also an insult towards people who do believe the bible is the infallible word of God.

I have to say it... so what? You act as if no one can cause offense. What if I find anyone who holds the Bible as infallible as offensive to me as a bisexual? Will you defend my supposed right to never be offended?

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #188 on: May 04, 2014, 09:57:49 AM »
This will be the last time I address you Sabby (and you know why) but there is such a thing as being civil. Openly insulting people of a specific faith is not civil. I do not give a shit how offended you are by something, it doesn't give you the right to be uncivil towards others.

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #189 on: May 04, 2014, 09:59:17 AM »
How was I uncivil? How is anyone being uncivil by saying that that the Bible is a poor moral code? Explain to me how THAT is offensive, but calling for my death you could care less about?

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #190 on: May 04, 2014, 10:02:10 AM »
Now you are being obtuse. You know damn well what part of that quote (ironic by the way that you zeroed in on the only part you could argue with) I was saying is an insult. And it wasnt the part where she disagreed with the bible. Now kindly do me the favor of putting me on ignore kthnxbye.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #191 on: May 04, 2014, 10:05:42 AM »
They've found ancient Sumerian texts that tell the same stories as the bible does (the great flood comes to mind) and that seems to imply that the stories are parables and not grounded in truth. It also implies that the Israelites were just repeating the stories they have heard before and crediting it to their deity.

To my mind this implies the exact opposite - when unconnected sources tell the same tale there's a pretty good case that tale is true.  In this case, when your entire world consists of a few villages along the banks of a river, occasionally a great flood will cover the world.  Couple that with the fossils of shellfish and the like that can be seen inland and bam.  You got yourself a flood myth.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #192 on: May 04, 2014, 10:09:23 AM »
To my mind this implies the exact opposite - when unconnected sources tell the same tale there's a pretty good case that tale is true.  In this case, when your entire world consists of a few villages along the banks of a river, occasionally a great flood will cover the world.  Couple that with the fossils of shellfish and the like that can be seen inland and bam.  You got yourself a flood myth.

Never considered the fact that the world to them was a relatively small area. Though I dont take the fossils of shellfish as proof since at one time the whole earth was covered in water.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #193 on: May 04, 2014, 10:12:34 AM »
Never considered the fact that the world to them was a relatively small area. Though I dont take the fossils of shellfish as proof since at one time the whole earth was covered in water.

No, sorry.  I phrased that badly.  You're a bronze age storyteller who has noticed that there are fossils of fish in your house, fucking miles away from the sea.  How do you explain that?  Well, obviously the area used to be covered in water.  Why isn't it now?  Well, floods happen - water levels rise, bring fish, recede, strand fish.

I'm not claiming fossils are evidence of a great flood, I'm claiming its easy to see how fossils could be viewed as evidence of a great flood.

Offline Oniya

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #194 on: May 04, 2014, 10:15:48 AM »
This thread is becoming hostile on both sides.  If it doesn't settle down, it will be locked, especially as the original poster has bowed out of the 'discussion' due to the hostility.

Offline Iniquitous

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #195 on: May 04, 2014, 10:23:19 AM »
No, sorry.  I phrased that badly.  You're a bronze age storyteller who has noticed that there are fossils of fish in your house, fucking miles away from the sea.  How do you explain that?  Well, obviously the area used to be covered in water.  Why isn't it now?  Well, floods happen - water levels rise, bring fish, recede, strand fish.

I'm not claiming fossils are evidence of a great flood, I'm claiming its easy to see how fossils could be viewed as evidence of a great flood.

Ok that I can see and agree with lol.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #196 on: May 04, 2014, 12:00:11 PM »
Mythicism is very much a minor position.  Calling it a simmering debate is overstating it a little, it's a minority strand not accepted by the mainstream.  Acknowledging it isn't on "teach the controversy" levels, but there's still not much of a debate. More here

Also, mythicism is one of those areas like Quantum Physics that just plain attracts nutjobs.  Certainly not all mythicist scholars are nutjobs - I've mentioned before I have a lot of time for Richard Carrier - but the tinfoil hat brigade to tend to taint the entire field.
Fair enough. It's not something I follow terribly closely - Carrier is actually my primary source on the subject, and I've seen him making a pretty solid case that mythicism is nowhere near as weak as historicists tend to assert. That said, he's one voice with a stake in the fight.

Important note: The fact that quantum physics tends to attract nutjobs doesn't stop it being correct.



Actually, she said ...

Which is also an insult towards people who do believe the bible is the infallible word of God.
I can see how that might be construed as insulting. Given that infallibility only works by violating its own principles, though, it is also true. It's also worth noting that inerrancy is the theology of hatred, exclusion, and racism.

EDIT to clarify: I am not saying that finding morality in the Bible is irrational. I am saying that arguing that the Bible is infallible, and therefore all of it applies (except the overwhelmingly huge majority that talks about love and acceptance and tolerance (except where that acceptance and tolerance applies to me)) is irrational.

And yet I've read another thread thesunmaid had where she actually reveled in the fact that she and a friend openly mocked and ridiculed a christian. (thread found here: https://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=184284.0 ) Not a far stretch for me to read this thread and see it as yet another instance of her spewing hate about something she doesn't like. If this were the first post she had ever made about it I'd have taken her explanation that she didn't have a problem with christianity. However, when I've already read her posting ridicule towards christians I'm not going to buy her saying now that she has no issue with the christian religion. It's called trying to defend against any potential backlash.
First: Pretty far stretch to get hatred from either of those things, let alone "absolute" "unadulterated" hatred. Second: You clearly did not read that whole thread, or you might have noticed that she made the very same point I called out in the OP of this thread, and stated that she had prior personal experience with this person's obnoxious and insulting evangelism. It seems pretty clear to me that this, not Christianity in general, is what she has an issue with. Even if it's not clear to you... perhaps yoou could ask, instead of assuming the worst possible interpretation yet again?



To my mind this implies the exact opposite - when unconnected sources tell the same tale there's a pretty good case that tale is true.
I'd say that this is true if they corroborate each other in details unrelated to the central point (for instance, who were the major players? Does the description of the Ark match? How about the olive-branch bit?), or if the two cultures can be demonstrated to have no contact. If those conditions don't hold, though, all it's really evidence of is memes.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 12:03:11 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Oniya

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #197 on: May 04, 2014, 12:06:26 PM »
Since we're on the subject of not reading the entire thread:

This thread is going to be locked, for the previously mentioned reason.  It will not be reopened.