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Author Topic: Elliquian Atheists  (Read 35532 times)

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Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #475 on: March 06, 2013, 04:33:23 PM »
I often struggle with this part of a discussion. When a Theist asks me 'why attack Religion just because of a few loud bigots'. I know what I want to say, and why they are wrong in their position, but I'm never happy with how I say it.

I found this today, and I thought it was more beautiful and clear and moving then anything I could have said.

Why An Atheist Doesn't Need To Watch "Jesus Camp"

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #476 on: March 06, 2013, 04:50:57 PM »
I often struggle with this part of a discussion. When a Theist asks me 'why attack Religion just because of a few loud bigots'. I know what I want to say, and why they are wrong in their position, but I'm never happy with how I say it.

Because it's not a few loud bigots. It's not even the much larger masses that condone the bigots with their silence. It's a millenia-long pattern of harm, including but not limited to the fundamental concept of "You need to Just Believe This. Because shut up, that's why."

NOTE: I tend to ruffle more than a few feathers when I get on this topic in mixed company. If you want a polite and civil discourse, taking my tack is probably inadvisable.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #477 on: March 06, 2013, 05:23:40 PM »
Believe me, I agree with you, but conveying that tends to be difficult, especially when the person you're trying to speak to is getting personal/offended. And you don't sound like a feather ruffler so far :) I'm curious about your take on the video.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #478 on: March 06, 2013, 05:25:08 PM »
It's a millenia-long pattern of harm, including but not limited to the fundamental concept of "You need to Just Believe This. Because shut up, that's why."

This bears repeating.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #479 on: March 06, 2013, 06:13:39 PM »
Eh. I think it's good for atheists to be able to confidently answer the basic bog-standard religious recruitment tactics.

I'd rather it didn't become standard for atheists to start mirroring the common religious presumption that their belief systems (or lack-of-belief systems) are mankind's shot at redemption from darkness and suffering. People should be atheist if it makes sense and is philosophically satisfying to them -- I certainly am -- but have no illusions: atheism isn't itself proof against nutty or tyrannical ideologies, ignorance or bigotry, lies or charlatans, wars and violence. Skepticism and rationality are great tools against many of those things, up to a point, but if you think either skepticism or rationalism are necessarily inherent to atheism or its exclusive province, you're being sold a bill of goods.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #480 on: March 06, 2013, 06:42:27 PM »
Skepticism and rationality are great tools against many of those things, up to a point, but if you think either skepticism or rationalism are necessarily inherent to atheism or its exclusive province, you're being sold a bill of goods.

Could you explain how one becomes an Atheist without skepticism and rationality?

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #481 on: March 06, 2013, 06:54:36 PM »
Eh. I think it's good for atheists to be able to confidently answer the basic bog-standard religious recruitment tactics.

I'd rather it didn't become standard for atheists to start mirroring the common religious presumption that their belief systems (or lack-of-belief systems) are mankind's shot at redemption from darkness and suffering. People should be atheist if it makes sense and is philosophically satisfying to them -- I certainly am -- but have no illusions: atheism isn't itself proof against nutty or tyrannical ideologies, ignorance or bigotry, lies or charlatans, wars and violence. Skepticism and rationality are great tools against many of those things, up to a point, but if you think either skepticism or rationalism are necessarily inherent to atheism or its exclusive province, you're being sold a bill of goods.

Mankind's shot at redemption from darkness and suffering? I'd say that label fits atheism in the specific sense that religion has a strong pattern of causing darkness and suffering, but not outside of that. Atheism is certainly not proof against poor thinking and horrible treatment of others - the small but extremely vocal contingent of misogynists in the movement is proof of that - but it also doesn't specifically encourage them the way religion tends to. My strongest point of disagreement is that, yes, rationality is the exclusive province of atheism. Any faith is, by definition, fundamentally and irreparably irrational.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #482 on: March 06, 2013, 06:54:48 PM »
Could you explain how one becomes an Atheist without skepticism and rationality?

Sure. One gets sold a faux-version of "skepticism" and "rationality" and told it's the genuine article. Hence Objectivism, Scientology, arguably Communism (complicated), Sam Harris' inexplicable reputation as an "intellectual," and so on.

Or one can just join a religion that doesn't technically worship a deity. Strictly-speaking, Buddhism and Taoism are nominally atheistic, for instance.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #483 on: March 06, 2013, 06:56:25 PM »
My strongest point of disagreement is that, yes, rationality is the exclusive province of atheism.

Well, like I said: bill of goods. This claim is simply and factually wrong.

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #484 on: March 06, 2013, 06:58:04 PM »
I'd rather it didn't become standard for atheists to start mirroring the common religious presumption that their belief systems (or lack-of-belief systems) are mankind's shot at redemption from darkness and suffering.
If the presumption is correct, then it is correct. It doesn't matter if it sounds arrogant.

Atheism certainly cannot solve all problems, but I've never heard anyone claim it could. The claims I've heard is that it can solve most of the problems that have been created - and continue to be created - by religions. Isn't that true?

Could you explain how one becomes an Atheist without skepticism and rationality?
That's actually not hard. For example, one way - one among many - would be if you were raised by atheist parents, who just told you what they believed without teaching you how to think critically, and you accepted their beliefs without any real thought or introspection.

But of course, that's just one possibility. Just because most people come to a conclusion via careful, critical thought and reasoning, doesn't mean that everyone will.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #485 on: March 06, 2013, 07:01:51 PM »
The claims I've heard is that it can solve most of the problems that have been created - and continue to be created - by religions.

Not AFAICS. The problems "created by religions" are outcomes of flaws in human nature that aren't specific to religion. Atheist ideologies can and have manifested all of them and quite bloodily too, cf. basically the end-to-end history of the Twentieth Century. The claim that atheism will somehow "solve" all these horrible things "religion" has been doing does not stand up.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #486 on: March 06, 2013, 07:03:38 PM »
Well, like I said: bill of goods. This claim is simply and factually wrong.

Citation needed: Show me a faith that is not fundamentally irrational. (Note that I am not asserting that rationality is fundamental to or always paired with atheism, only that it is exclusive to it, ie it cannot be found in faith.)

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #487 on: March 06, 2013, 07:12:24 PM »
Not AFAICS. The problems "created by religions" are outcomes of flaws in human nature that aren't specific to religion. Atheist ideologies can and have manifested all of them and quite bloodily too, cf. basically the end-to-end history of the Twentieth Century. The claim that atheism will somehow "solve" all these horrible things "religion" has been doing does not stand up.

I'd appreciate it if you also cited some specific sources for the bolded claim, please.

Offline Saria

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #488 on: March 06, 2013, 07:14:49 PM »
Not AFAICS. The problems "created by religions" are outcomes of flaws in human nature that aren't specific to religion.
Yeah? So there are non-religious witch-burnings in Papua New Guinea? There are people starving and abusing kids for being possessed by non-religious demons in Niger? Mothers murder their children to protect them from them there upcoming non-religious raptures? You know, the non-religious raptures predicted by those non-religious prophets, using those ol' non-religious scriptures?

Hm. What a world, eh?

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #489 on: March 06, 2013, 07:35:36 PM »
Not AFAICS. The problems "created by religions" are outcomes of flaws in human nature that aren't specific to religion. Atheist ideologies can and have manifested all of them and quite bloodily too, cf. basically the end-to-end history of the Twentieth Century. The claim that atheism will somehow "solve" all these horrible things "religion" has been doing does not stand up.

Because, as Saria so perfectly pointed out, I don't recall the last time there was a Church of Atheism which preached that murdering widows, marrying your rapist and killing witches. It's not that religion is a pure creation, corrupted by human desire - the problem is that religion is a veiled, poor excuse to justify the flawed urges in humanity. If you want to murder people who are getting in your way, but have no pretense to do so without getting in trouble? Just convince all your friends that believe in demons that they're demons - that way, it's not murder. You're just exercising all the evil in them!

"Good people do good things, bad people do bad things. If you want to see a good man do bad things, give him religion."

I'd appreciate it if you also cited some specific sources for the bolded claim, please.

I have to say I'm quite curious about the evils Atheism has created.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #490 on: March 06, 2013, 07:53:50 PM »
Most people do not come to a conclusion based on careful consideration of evidence and detached examination of the world around them.  Most decisions are made based on emotion and influence of peers.  A choice for atheism does not necessitate some higher learning or cognition any more than a choice of religion automatically bespeaks enlightenment.  Few people following a religious belief arm themselves with a true understanding of their religion, just as few atheists likewise arm themselves with a true understanding of their ideology.  More often than not the atheists I have encountered are simply angry at someone and want attention.  There are those that truly believe in no God, which is well and good.  Still, being an atheist does not automatically grant rational thought and an understanding of the skeptic.

People have always found a reason to kill one another and an excuse for the crime.  Religion, culture, ideology are all quickly used culprits for such things.  I doubt few of the atrocities attributes to religion have really anything to do with actual religious dogma or belief.  Most such atrocities can be easily traced to human emotion and desire over any lofty notion of performing Godís work.  Nearly every religion no matter how peaceful can be traced to some atrocity.  Likewise nearly an ideology, atheism included, can be linked to genocide and atrocity.  The common denominator being humankind, not religion. 

I do not think Cyrano is trying to lay low atheism or hold up religion, but is instead trying to convey that the absence of religion will not necessarily make the world a more peaceful place.  Certainly without religion people will not be able to claim their enemies are demons.  They will simply claim their enemies are of a different nationality, different creed, different background, different tribe or one of many other reasons humans have already given.  People have used social-class as reason to kill one another in the past.  Religion is simply one scapegoat among many.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #491 on: March 06, 2013, 07:55:36 PM »
Quote from: Saria
That's actually not hard. For example, one way - one among many - would be if you were raised by atheist parents, who just told you what they believed without teaching you how to think critically, and you accepted their beliefs without any real thought or introspection.

But of course, that's just one possibility. Just because most people come to a conclusion via careful, critical thought and reasoning, doesn't mean that everyone will.

Ah, I should have expected that and clarified xD Atheism is the default setting for humans. A new born baby is an Atheist until they adopt a theistic belief. What I meant was the conscious act of becoming an Atheist later in life, whether it be realizing ones Atheism or leaving Theism.

I can't see that happening without a healthy skepticism or rationality. Hell, SkepRash at all! I am so naming my band Skeprash...

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #492 on: March 06, 2013, 07:56:08 PM »
I'm not really against religion, just against the ignorance and irrationality that so many of them instill and condone.

A bit more logic and cognitive reasoning is what the world needs, not more bloody prayer.

Offline Amor

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #493 on: March 06, 2013, 07:57:03 PM »
Ah, I should have expected that and clarified xD Atheism is the default setting for humans. A new born baby is an Atheist until they adopt a theistic belief. What I meant was the conscious act of becoming an Atheist later in life, whether it be realizing ones Atheism or leaving Theism.

I can't see that happening without a healthy skepticism or rationality. Hell, SkepRash at all! I am so naming my band Skeprash...

Atheism is by no means a "default setting". It's a learned, cultural response just like everything else.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #494 on: March 06, 2013, 07:57:04 PM »
Citation needed: Show me a faith that is not fundamentally irrational. (Note that I am not asserting that rationality is fundamental to or always paired with atheism, only that it is exclusive to it, ie it cannot be found in faith.)

Well... which claim are we talking about? If it's that any "faith" is at some level "fundamentally irrational," that is trivially true (belief in a deity, or the Tao, or Samsara, is ultimately non-disprovable), but then it's also trivially true, strictly speaking, of atheism (which also is not logically bulletproof). The only kind of belief system not open to the charge of "irrationality" at the "fundamental" level would be agnosticism... but it's questionable how meaningful that really is.

If we're talking about the claim that "rationality cannot be found in faith," that's a quite different and very straightforwardly false claim. The bulk of the history of philosophy, including rationalist philosophy, is not separate from religious philosophy and thought; almost any list of philosophers and early scientists from any tradition you can name -- Catholic, Islamic, Indian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese -- is also a who's who of religious thought. (Just for example, from Catholicism.) So you should never, ever listen to someone who tells you "rationality cannot be found in faith." They are selling you both a fallacy and a very easily-debunked falsehood.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #495 on: March 06, 2013, 07:58:45 PM »
I do not think Cyrano is trying to lay low atheism or hold up religion, but is instead trying to convey that the absence of religion will not necessarily make the world a more peaceful place. 

You have me exact, thank you.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #496 on: March 06, 2013, 08:02:53 PM »
Atheism is by no means a "default setting". It's a learned, cultural response just like everything else.

No, Atheism is a lack of belief in theistic claims. We are born Atheists. Our understanding of/investment into it is what can change and evolve.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #497 on: March 06, 2013, 08:08:03 PM »
Because, as Saria so perfectly pointed out, I don't recall the last time there was a Church of Atheism which preached that murdering widows, marrying your rapist and killing witches.

Scientology is an nominally-atheist ideology known for dressing up child abuse, indentured labour, exploitation and mind control as legitimate practice. Objectivism fraudulently passed off mental abuse as "therapy" (cf. Jeff Walker's survey of the ideology's cultic aspects). Communism was and is specifically atheistic -- famous in fact for giving us "religion is the opiate of the masses" -- and there is no shortage of people on the Net to tell you how many millions of people were murdered in the name of Communism during the Twentieth Century, but the bloody history of that particular ideology is an unavoidable fact (Matt White is at least entertaining about it).

There is really no shortage of examples that should warn us that atheism is perfectly capable of replicating all of the evils of religion.

Offline Amor

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #498 on: March 06, 2013, 08:09:27 PM »
No, Atheism is a lack of belief in theistic claims. We are born Atheists. Our understanding of/investment into it is what can change and evolve.

A negative belief doesn't logically "begin" anything, so I don't see how reacting to something can be the first move - it just seems like a sloppy way of thinking about human nature.

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Apologies for intruding on the thread, definitely not my scene - nothing is more unattractive than people raving from a soapbox.

Offline Vanity Evolved

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #499 on: March 06, 2013, 08:16:18 PM »
Most people do not come to a conclusion based on careful consideration of evidence and detached examination of the world around them.  Most decisions are made based on emotion and influence of peers.  A choice for atheism does not necessitate some higher learning or cognition any more than a choice of religion automatically bespeaks enlightenment.  Few people following a religious belief arm themselves with a true understanding of their religion, just as few atheists likewise arm themselves with a true understanding of their ideology.  More often than not the atheists I have encountered are simply angry at someone and want attention.  There are those that truly believe in no God, which is well and good.  Still, being an atheist does not automatically grant rational thought and an understanding of the skeptic.

You're right; in the heat of the moment and when emotions are running high, we do default to emotion. You've had a bad day. Your pet is ill, you hurt your leg and lost your wallet. First thing you think is 'Ugh, what have I done to deserve this? Fuck sake!'. However, a rational person goes home and after a bath and some chocolate simply accept that today was a day where a lot of things went wrong, you'll phone the vet in the morning, your leg will be better after you rest it and your wallet only had ten pounds in it anyway. Someone who's irrational can jump to the conclusion that "Well, Uranus is in line with Neptune today, which means that it was God's will that I suffer today."

Atheism does not, as you say, impart any level of improved IQ or understand by being Atheist. Remember, Relians are Atheists by definition, and believe the exact same thing Christian Creationists believe - just replace God with super advanced space lizards. Atheism, unlike religion, tends towards open-mindedness rather than arrogant stubborn-ness that a two thousand year old book holds the answers. If your response to evolution, the universe and morality is 'God did it' without questioning it, then you're not going to learn. Being religious does not bring you any closer to enlightenment. Christianity is saying a man in the sky made the universe for some reason which you don't know, because you're an imperfect sinner. This is the same level of understanding of the universe as a child pointing to the sky and saying 'Look mummy! Big cloud makes pretty sun go across sky, yay!'. An Atheist and a Christian are equally able to pick up a book on the physics of the universe and learn about the wonders of the galaxy we live in. The difference is that Atheism doesn't claim to know the answers. Christianity does. When you have the one answer to slot into all situations, why pick up a book to learn about the universe? You have the Good Book.

Being an Atheist does not grant you skepticism and rationality; being skeptical and rational tends to lead people towards Atheism. A skeptical person, when told that God is a good being and is shown doing what he does in the Bible tends to question that being's morality.

I'm not even going to comment on how silly the idea is that all Atheists are just attention seekers trying to cause trouble. Especially when you consider that religion does, in fact, do this ("We need to cause a big fuss over a man marrying another man! This is disgusting! My book says so! Pay attention to me! You must do something about this, government, to appease my two thousand year old book's ideals!")

People have always found a reason to kill one another and an excuse for the crime.  Religion, culture, ideology are all quickly used culprits for such things.  I doubt few of the atrocities attributes to religion have really anything to do with actual religious dogma or belief.  Most such atrocities can be easily traced to human emotion and desire over any lofty notion of performing Godís work.  Nearly every religion no matter how peaceful can be traced to some atrocity.  Likewise nearly an ideology, atheism included, can be linked to genocide and atrocity.  The common denominator being humankind, not religion.

Religion isn't a sole reason. It is, however, another possible justification. Are you saying that Christianity isn't to blame for the witch-hunting trials? Or the Crusades? Because I certainly recall Christianity's idea that people were 'witches' wasn't something that Atheists created. All atrocities are traced to human emotion, religion is simply the justification. Religion is a very easy scapegoat to make an enemy of another people. "Kill all those people, rape them and take their stuff!" doesn't incite violence and fervour quite like "This is God's will! Kill the heretics! Oh, also, if you find any women or money on the way, God will turn an eye on you, this time... it's a reward to those who are faithful and do his work."

And no, Atheism cannot be linked to genocide in any way. Religion has distinct points which can be linked to why people have done their evils. I would like you to point to one instance where someone's lack of belief in a God caused them to murder women on the suspicion that they were using magic, or that they were 'the superior race'.

I do not think Cyrano is trying to lay low atheism or hold up religion, but is instead trying to convey that the absence of religion will not necessarily make the world a more peaceful place.  Certainly without religion people will not be able to claim their enemies are demons.  They will simply claim their enemies are of a different nationality, different creed, different background, different tribe or one of many other reasons humans have already given.  People have used social-class as reason to kill one another in the past.  Religion is simply one scapegoat among many.

Yes, and guess what? People who murder other people for whatever reason are punished. As you say, this has always existed and always will. It's human nature.