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Author Topic: Elliquian Atheists  (Read 35635 times)

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Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #525 on: March 06, 2013, 10:09:02 PM »
Really? Because of this? Fun experiment: Next time you see a theist claiming that atheists have no morals, ask them why they think that. I will bet you CAD$100 that Aldous Huxley will not be mentioned. I can virtually guarantee that the reasoning will follow the basic pattern of "Morality flows from God, therefore no god = no morals", without any quotes or citations of any atheists.

Further: It's not really about "Some X do this, therefore all X is bad". It's about "X exhibits an overarching pattern of destructive influence, and any time you see X you are guaranteed to find at least one damaging thing going on as a direct result." This checks out for religion, not so for atheism.

I need numbers.  I need the number of religions and the number of members factored in with the number of those who commit the crimes you list to prove to me that what you say is true, that we are all bad simply because we have faith, believe in a higher power and try to live a good and Christian life.  You can put me on the side of being a Roman Catholic who believes that we all have the right to choose our path in life as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.  In fact, to my knowledge none of the people in my church have killed anyone at all, let alone in the name of God, nor have they incited murder, genocide or any other crime in the name of God.

As I said you can't judge people based on what they believe or don't believe.  You can only judge people by how they act.  Belittling my opinion because I quoted Aldus Huxley does not prove your point to me nor does it make me think less of atheists.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #526 on: March 06, 2013, 10:12:53 PM »
That argument does not work both ways Rhapsody.  No central belief system, no central structure, no central philosophy so no blame.  People will claim the title of atheism but fail to take responsibility for the actions of another atheists.  At the same time people will lay claim to atheists being more open-minded, being for gay marriage and being less violent.  One cannot take credit for other atheists but at the same time shrug away the responsibility of others.  If a statement of atheists are open-minded can be accepted, then just as easily a statement regarding atheists as something negative can also be taken. 

Also in terms of proper use of supporting links and evidence, Cyrano is using fairly broad examples that are generally common knowledge.  Your examples on the other hand are used not to backup an argument but for emotional fodder and shock factor. 

I would also be surprised to see that guarantee of yours tested Ephiral.  For one your statement seems directed at monotheists, not simply all religions.  Also, many of the priests I have interacted with actually consider a moral atheist to be one of the pinnacle examples of morality because a true atheist does not seek benefit from doing good.  So while a lack of belief in God does prevent one from seeking forgiveness for sins that come naturally to being human, that lack of belief does not mean someone is incapable of being moral. 
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 10:18:03 PM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline Hades

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #527 on: March 06, 2013, 10:19:52 PM »
Having said all that... I get why people are sensitive about having Communism brought up. I do. There are theists who try to paint all of atheism with that brush, we've all seen it happen, I don't entirely blame people who default to assuming I must be doing so and have trouble making themselves believe otherwise even when it's clearly explained to them. I get it. It's an emotional red button.

But you know, if there's one take-away I could hope for from all this, it's: don't huffily demand from people that they "provide you with examples of atheism ever having committed the same evils as religion." Just don't. Because that example is right there in the recent historical record, it is super-obvious, it is unavoidably relevant (shitty as that is), and they will bring it up, with a lot less restraint and circumspection than I've done here. You don't need to just go walking smack into that. It just doesn't help you, or us, as atheists.

As soon as you provide evidence of atheism having committed the same evils as religion, I will apologize to you.  But you have not done so.  You have pointed out atrocities committed by atheists, not in the name of atheism, and therein lies the key difference.    The witch burnings, the Inquisition, the Crusades and the evils committed in the world today by religions (and I would call teaching that condoms are evil and should never be used to a continent suffering a pandemic of HIV/AIDS, or the attempt to deny women of all faiths access to healthcare just because old men don't agree with the pill, or denying homosexuals the same basic rights as heterosexuals all in the category of evil acts) are done because they believe it's what their god demands of them.  The war cry for the Crusades was "Deus vult" - "God wills it", and it's still a popular answer for any fundamentalist today.

Stalin, Mao and the others didn't go "Well, I don't believe in god so I'm going to kill a few thousand people today".  Their excuses were most often politically motivated, or had no motivation at all except paranoid delusions of a dictator desperate to hold power against percieved armies of enemies in the shadows. 

And yes, not every believer is a fundamentalist, just like not every atheist is a dictator in waiting.  And not every crime committed by a theist is because they believe their cloud-deity commands it, just as a crime committed by an atheist is because they disbelieve in a deity.  But you have given examples of autrocities committed by atheists, nor for atheism.

Offline Rhapsody

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #528 on: March 06, 2013, 10:21:06 PM »
Really? Citing direct examples where it's the religion itself doing the harm, and not a specific individual is only for shock value now? Good to know.

Uncomfortable truths are uncomfortable.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #529 on: March 06, 2013, 10:28:14 PM »
I need numbers.  I need the number of religions and the number of members factored in with the number of those who commit the crimes you list to prove to me that what you say is true, that we are all bad simply because we have faith, believe in a higher power and try to live a good and Christian life.  You can put me on the side of being a Roman Catholic who believes that we all have the right to choose our path in life as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.  In fact, to my knowledge none of the people in my church have killed anyone at all, let alone in the name of God, nor have they incited murder, genocide or any other crime in the name of God.

As I said you can't judge people based on what they believe or don't believe.  You can only judge people by how they act.  Belittling my opinion because I quoted Aldus Huxley does not prove your point to me nor does it make me think less of atheists.

Well. I didn't list any crimes, but I'll rectify that now.

Encouraging and participating in dogmatic thinking: Without acritical thinking, you don't have faith, so I'm gonna call this an easy 100%.

This is not to say that atheists never exhibit acritical thinking patterns - everybody does. But atheists trend toward treating this as a weakness, and critical thought as a virtue to be upheld. Religions trend very strongly in the other direction.

As far as "belittling [your] opinion because [ you ] quoted Aldous Huxley": You did not state an opinion. You made a factual statement.

Because of things like this spoke about and believed by atheists this is one of the perceptions of atheism.

I did not dismiss this statement as unimportant; I challenged the truth of it, and offered you both a way to test it and an incentive to find it true. I did so in a snarky fashion, yes, but that's not so much "belittling" as "asking you to make sure the things you assert as truth are actually true". You may have a hard time debating with atheists if you find difficulty in doing that.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #530 on: March 06, 2013, 10:36:55 PM »
I would also be surprised to see that guarantee of yours tested Ephiral.  For one your statement seems directed at monotheists, not simply all religions.  Also, many of the priests I have interacted with actually consider a moral atheist to be one of the pinnacle examples of morality because a true atheist does not seek benefit from doing good.  So while a lack of belief in God does prevent one from seeking forgiveness for sins that come naturally to being human, that lack of belief does not mean someone is incapable of being moral.

Two minor points: One, the "atheists have no morals" argument tends to come from followers of Abrahamic religions. It's not exclusive, but offhand I'd be willing to call the odds >90%. Two, the bet and guarantee were predicated on finding someone who claims atheists have no morals. Many faithful do not do this, true. I've never claimed otherwise. That said, this is the first time I've ever seen tell of a theist holding any atheist up as a pinnacle of morality. I learned something new and pleasant here. Thanks.

Personally, I've always found the "no morals" argument terrifying. So... you're telling me that the only reason you do anything nice is because someone is standing over you with a big stick? Oh, look at the time, I have to be as far away from you as humanly possible.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #531 on: March 06, 2013, 10:44:40 PM »
For a time we had a Jesuit priest at my highschool who taught senior level religion.  His opening statement was "I cannot tell you the Truth and anyone who says they can is either a fool or a liar.  I can only tell you what I believe and why."  He also said that he was not pleased with the way many Christians practiced their faith, only doing God's work to get into Heaven.  He did hold the moral atheist up as a standard that all should follow, doing what was right simply because the action is right.  Now if pressed I'm sure he would say the atheist is following God's will and that God is acting through the atheist, but that is the way of things.  Jesuits are an odd bunch to be certain since they are, I believe anyway, the only active order of priests to have been excommunicated by a Pope.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #532 on: March 06, 2013, 10:49:06 PM »
...hah. I was just thinking "It was probably a Jesuit." Those guys are pretty all right, as theists go - they seem to have a strong tradition of sharply critical thinking, except for the huge blind spot where their faith sits.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #533 on: March 06, 2013, 10:52:48 PM »
Descartes was apparently trained by Jesuits...and hated them for it.

Course my roommate also chimes in that Castro was too. 

As for faith being a blind spot for critical thinking, I don't think so.  My faith, however meager, gives me my strength to do what I do. 
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 10:56:39 PM by Pumpkin Seeds »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #534 on: March 06, 2013, 10:57:28 PM »
Well. I didn't list any crimes, but I'll rectify that now.

Encouraging and participating in dogmatic thinking: Without acritical thinking, you don't have faith, so I'm gonna call this an easy 100%.

This is not to say that atheists never exhibit acritical thinking patterns - everybody does. But atheists trend toward treating this as a weakness, and critical thought as a virtue to be upheld. Religions trend very strongly in the other direction.

As far as "belittling [your] opinion because [ you ] quoted Aldous Huxley": You did not state an opinion. You made a factual statement.

I did not dismiss this statement as unimportant; I challenged the truth of it, and offered you both a way to test it and an incentive to find it true. I did so in a snarky fashion, yes, but that's not so much "belittling" as "asking you to make sure the things you assert as truth are actually true". You may have a hard time debating with atheists if you find difficulty in doing that.

You make no sense with the first remark.  There are no religions listed, no specific members of religions listed and no list of members responsible for the things you or anyone has alleged. 

As for the mangled remarks given second which read badly I may not get what you are implying.  I stated an opinion based on something Aldus Huxley said and which is quoted many times.  My opinion is that a figurehead like Huxley will be quoted over and over and his words will become part of the foundation of a movement or whatever you choose to call atheism. 

You also omitted the rest of my post thereby taking my words out of context and creating argument based on an assumption and deliberately misleading other readers.  That is disrespectful to me personally and deliberately changing the thrust of my remarks.  I also do not appreciate snark in a serious discussion.  You have been accorded respect on this site for your views and giving anything less is unacceptable.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #535 on: March 06, 2013, 11:23:33 PM »
You make no sense with the first remark.  There are no religions listed, no specific members of religions listed and no list of members responsible for the things you or anyone has alleged.

Every. Single. One. I'm not going to bother providing a list, because I am indicting every member of every religion on this one. Because it is self-evident - if you do not have acritical thinking, you do not have faith.

As for the mangled remarks given second which read badly I may not get what you are implying.  I stated an opinion based on something Aldus Huxley said and which is quoted many times.  My opinion is that a figurehead like Huxley will be quoted over and over and his words will become part of the foundation of a movement or whatever you choose to call atheism.

This was nowhere near your actual statement. You stated that atheists are perceived as immoral because of what Huxley said. You did not state that it is your opinion that atheists are immoral, you said nothing about Huxley contributing to the foundation of atheism. You made a statement of fact. I told you to test this statement.

For the record, this "opinion" appears to be another statement of fact - it says something about the state the world is in, which can be checked against the state the world is actually in. Are any prominent and respected atheists quoting Huxley? Are there widespread atheist systems of thought or behaviour based on his ideas as presented here? I certainly don't see any.

You also omitted the rest of my post thereby taking my words out of context and creating argument based on an assumption and deliberately misleading other readers.  That is disrespectful to me personally and deliberately changing the thrust of my remarks.  I also do not appreciate snark in a serious discussion.  You have been accorded respect on this site for your views and giving anything less is unacceptable.

I trimmed your post to the statement that was being challenged, and showed that statement unedited. You'll have to show me how adding the rest back in - which I did the first time despite it not being a point of contention as a gesture to your sensibilities - makes anything I said about it untrue or changes the nature of the statement.

Your assertion that you stated an opinion that in no way can be read from your original post, on the other hand? That's misleading.

I'm sorry about the snark - I've been uncharacteristically snippy tonight, and I really shouldn't have. But... if you're going to accuse me of something, could you back it up?
« Last Edit: March 07, 2013, 12:31:43 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #536 on: March 06, 2013, 11:27:32 PM »
As soon as you provide evidence of atheism having committed the same evils as religion, I will apologize to you.  But you have not done so.  You have pointed out atrocities committed by atheists, not in the name of atheism, and therein lies the key difference.

It's not a key difference, actually. Take the Communist example: atheism was a key component of the dialectical materialism that drove Marxist ideology. That it wasn't always stated simply "I don't believe in God, so you must die" (and in cases of Communist oppression of religion, it actually was and is stated that simply, cf. the CCP vs. the Falun Gong as I pointed out earlier) doesn't change this. For that matter, religion doesn't always simply say "I believe in God, so you must die/be flogged/be stoned" when oppressing people either; you'll find a whole host of supposedly "pragmatic" reasons for reviving the Old Testament belief in stoning widows in the Islamic world for instance. Doesn't change the fact that the abuse is happening in a specifically and ideologically atheistic context in one case, and a religious context is another. Nobody, including atheists, gets to claim "it wasn't explicitly tied in the rhetoric to this or that, so it's not relevant." Doesn't work that way.

Quote from: Rhapsody
Uncomfortable truths are uncomfortable.

Especially when they gore your own ox, right?

But the thing is I think atheists also have to face up to the same uncomfortable truths that they ask others to face up to. And my original point, and still my point, is that if one is telling oneself that atheism will of itself banish intolerance, or bullshit, or hate, or fear, or has some greater purchase on reason or skepticism, one is telling oneself a lie. There are many reasons to be an atheist, that's why I am one. But "atheism is the cure for the sins of religion" is not one of them, and never will be.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #537 on: March 06, 2013, 11:29:02 PM »
As for faith being a blind spot for critical thinking, I don't think so.  My faith, however meager, gives me my strength to do what I do.

It might well! That is, however, beside the point: you don't think critically about matters of faith and examine the evidence to see if they're upheld, do you?

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #538 on: March 06, 2013, 11:36:06 PM »
if one is telling oneself that atheism will of itself banish intolerance, or bullshit, or hate, or fear, or has some greater purchase on reason or skepticism, one is telling oneself a lie.

I actually have always felt similar, both about Theism and Atheism. Atheism doesn't remove ignorance and hate, and Religion doesn't create it. Just like a scab doesn't cause the laceration and the scent of vanilla didn't clean the carpets. I don't see either being the catalyst for a societies state, but a symptom of it. So no, the simple introduction of one won't ascend/lower a society, it's merely a bi-product of the society itself.

That does however mean I see correlations between them, which you might consider to be as good as the original statement. As education and living standards fall, populations become more superstitious and give rise to religion, where as an increase in quality of life would see those same conditions for religion shrink.

That may not be an incredibly astute observation, but I don't really hear it repeated it often :/

Offline Hades

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #539 on: March 06, 2013, 11:38:33 PM »
It's not a key difference, actually. Take the Communist example: atheism was a key component of the dialectical materialism that drove Marxist ideology. That it wasn't always stated simply "I don't believe in God, so you must die" (and in cases of Communist oppression of religion, it actually was and is stated that simply, cf. the CCP vs. the Falun Gong as I pointed out earlier) doesn't change this. For that matter, religion doesn't always simply say "I believe in God, so you must die/be flogged/be stoned" when oppressing people either; you'll find a whole host of supposedly "pragmatic" reasons for reviving the Old Testament belief in stoning widows in the Islamic world for instance. Doesn't change the fact that the abuse is happening in a specifically and ideologically atheistic context in one case, and a religious context is another. Nobody, including atheists, gets to claim "it wasn't explicitly tied in the rhetoric to this or that, so it's not relevant." Doesn't work that way.

But the thing is I think atheists also have to face up to the same uncomfortable truths that they ask others to face up to. And my original point, and still my point, is that if one is telling oneself that atheism will of itself banish intolerance, or bullshit, or hate, or fear, or has some greater purchase on reason or skepticism, one is telling oneself a lie. There are many reasons to be an atheist, that's why I am one. But "atheism is the cure for the sins of religion" is not one of them, and never will be.

I will agree with you that if religion disappeared tomorrow, that the world would still have the same problems it has today of hate, fear-mongering and intolerance.  Where we will have to agree to disagree is in my opinion that without religion those problems would be alot easier to deal with than they are currently, because religion is not there pouring gasoline on the flames on one side of the building while atheists are working the fire hoses on the other side of it.

But I think you and are simply talking past each other now, so while I thank you for the lively discussion I don't think either of us will change the other's opinion.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #540 on: March 06, 2013, 11:39:13 PM »
you don't think critically about matters of faith and examine the evidence to see if they're upheld, do you?

You know... there are religious people who think critically about matters of faith. That's where a lot of that rationalist philosophy that I pointed to in our earlier convo (in which you were most gracious, and I thank you) came from. This is kind of the flipside of telling an atheist that they don't believe in God because they just must not have thought it through; how would you react?

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #541 on: March 06, 2013, 11:49:23 PM »
I do a great deal of critical thinking in regards to my faith and belief system.  Much of my college years were spent taking philosophy courses alongside my science courses.  There is a great deal I donít understand, but a great deal I feel confident in believing.  Iíve argued with people holding Bibles and people holding doctorates.  The opportunity to challenge my beliefs, alter them if proven wrong and renew them is something I cherish. 

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #542 on: March 06, 2013, 11:53:11 PM »
You know... there are religious people who think critically about matters of faith. That's where a lot of that rationalist philosophy that I pointed to in our earlier convo (in which you were most gracious, and I thank you) came from. This is kind of the flipside of telling an atheist that they don't believe in God because they just must not have thought it through; how would you react?

By saying "Show me real evidence of your God, and I will believe."

Seriously, that "examine the evidence" step is crucial, and is part of good critical thinking practice.

You're quite welcome, and thanks in turn for the compliment. I grow increasingly embarrassed that I let the snarkmonster out all over BeMi.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #543 on: March 06, 2013, 11:57:05 PM »
I grow increasingly embarrassed that I let the snarkmonster out all over BeMi.

We've all been there. Hell, my snarkmonster is constantly ripping up the upholstery and pissing on the carpet. I keep trying to give him chew-toys, but he just ignores them.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #544 on: March 06, 2013, 11:59:27 PM »
I do a great deal of critical thinking in regards to my faith and belief system.  Much of my college years were spent taking philosophy courses alongside my science courses.  There is a great deal I donít understand, but a great deal I feel confident in believing.  Iíve argued with people holding Bibles and people holding doctorates.  The opportunity to challenge my beliefs, alter them if proven wrong and renew them is something I cherish.

I may have judged too quickly; my apologies. I just find it difficult to see how evidence-based reasoning can arrive at the conclusion that any supernatural being exists, let alone one particular vision of one.

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #545 on: March 07, 2013, 12:02:21 AM »
I will agree with you that if religion disappeared tomorrow, that the world would still have the same problems it has today of hate, fear-mongering and intolerance.  Where we will have to agree to disagree is in my opinion that without religion those problems would be alot easier to deal with than they are currently, because religion is not there pouring gasoline on the flames on one side of the building while atheists are working the fire hoses on the other side of it.

I personally am entirely on board to fight intolerance within religion. What loses me is the attempt to turn religion as a whole into the enemy. It just doesn't feel honest to reality to me; moreover it's a very own-goal strategy for a lot of the things that many atheists care about. The battle against Intelligent Design's dishonest self-presentation as a "scientific theory" is, for example, one to which one can recruit and in which (frankly) one needs allies from beyond the fold of self-confessed atheists, including the reasonable religious. Similarly, if one really cares about religious atrocities in the Islamic world, making allies of and listening to reformist Muslims is an obvious and necessary strategy. The business of demonizing religion as a whole, cathartic as it might be for some, tanks those potential alliances and ultimately renders "atheism" a sideshow. I would rather that didn't happen.

Quote
But I think you and are simply talking past each other now, so while I thank you for the lively discussion I don't think either of us will change the other's opinion.

Well, I do thank you for a lively discussion. Cheers, and see you around.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #546 on: March 07, 2013, 12:05:45 AM »
We've all been there. Hell, my snarkmonster is constantly ripping up the upholstery and pissing on the carpet. I keep trying to give him chew-toys, but he just ignores them.

However, keeping the snarkmonsters curbed is what keeps the discussions on track and encourages debate because people aren't frightened away.  Snarkmonsters are one of the most frequent reasons for locked threads I've found.

Also, proof of proper shots and vaccinations is required. ;D

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #547 on: March 07, 2013, 12:07:06 AM »
My shots may be a little out of date. I'll have to look into that...  ;D

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #548 on: March 07, 2013, 12:10:51 AM »
:: holds the syringe:: I'm known for being quick and gentle :: winks::

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #549 on: March 07, 2013, 12:22:39 AM »
I want to make a hypothetical example to illustrate a point.  My point is that by making people accept irrational beliefs, their ability to think critically is negatively affected.

Say as a religious leader, I teach my followers to accept on faith, the fact that the world and all of civilization has only been around for 500 years. I insist that this teaching is sacred and that they must accept it on faith. One day, a follower humbly confronts me with reasonable evidence that the world has been around for much longer than 500 years. I tell him that he is not to question god's word because God is all knowing, and he is not.  He points out another inconsistency, and again, I give him another song and dance that still doesn't really agree with what truth he stumbled upon.

What is the believer supposed to do?

If he surrenders and just accepts what he's been told to believe, he will be at rest with his faith, but at odds with the truth.

If he sticks to his perceived truth, he'll have accurate information in his head, but will be at odds with his faith.

Alternatively, he can invent a false belief to emulsify the truth with the lie -  "the world has been around for only 500 years despite all the contradicting evidence that I've seen because......  because god has hidden the truth from non believers. "


What happens to this follower when he is exposed to this kind of predicament repeatedly? After 20, 50, 100 such exposures? Will he chose ignorance  and security over truth and uncertainty? Will his mind become riddled with silly emulsifying beliefs?

To be fair, the same pattern could apply to an atheist who is pressured into believing BS too.