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Author Topic: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle  (Read 7489 times)

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Offline Sabby

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #175 on: December 04, 2012, 05:14:35 PM »
There are knitting and crochet groups, and even cross-stitch groups.  And while there might be heated discussions or even flaming over English vs. Danish method, or the belief that licking your thread leads to brown age-spots on the fabric, I doubt that could qualify any of them as religious groups - or even belief systems.

+11

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #176 on: December 04, 2012, 05:16:47 PM »
The statement was made that there are no groups.  No statement was made that there are churches.  Either there are groups for socialization and support or there aren't.  One is true and one is false and no amount of rationalization is going to change fact.

People reading this thread need to hear the truth and not a sanitized version of the "opinion" of a few.  They can Google atheism if they want the truth as I did.  They can expand the search to groups and meetings as I did.  They can find support for their beliefs as atheists call it if they want to look and not be left to feel alone and with no choice but what is offered here.

Yes, Atheists form groups. Because they have to :/ Not for the same reasons a Church sends kids out on their bikes with flyers. In a mostly religious part of the world, outreach programs are important. To point to the fact there are Atheist social groups and conclude that all Atheists are bound by doctrine/that Atheism is a belief system is, to be completely honest... either knowingly dishonest or just plain ignorant.
May I suggest you take it down a few notches?




« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 05:20:26 PM by Beguile's Mistress »

Offline LunarSageTopic starter

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #177 on: December 04, 2012, 05:17:09 PM »
BM wasn't suggesting that they qualify as religious groups... as far as I could tell, she was simply saying that there are atheist groups that do band together for fellowship and sometimes political influence (as evidenced by the atheist group that bought the lots in the CA incident) to promote their own agendas.

EDIT:  Ninja'd.  :P

Offline Sabby

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #178 on: December 04, 2012, 05:27:12 PM »
No one claimed there were not Atheist groups. The claim was that Atheism is not inherently anything besides a lack of belief. Most religious belief systems revolve around community and tradition. We do not. There is no common threads between Atheists, as has been discussed before, only a common understanding that we've all come to.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 05:29:03 PM by Sabby »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #179 on: December 04, 2012, 05:30:48 PM »
Please go back and read the quote in my post with the list of groups.

Also, according to another diatribe somewhere atheists don't use the word belief.  Check the list and click the link with the quote.  I didn't make that up.

Offline LunarSageTopic starter

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #180 on: December 04, 2012, 05:33:47 PM »
That does kind of hit on the main reason why most atheists tend to grate on me.  Even in a debate, their overall message seems to be "you're a damned idiot if you believe in anything but nothing".  I personally find that attitude more than a bit offensive.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #181 on: December 04, 2012, 05:35:52 PM »
I don't feel Stattick's point about atheists having nothing in common other than a disbelief in God holds water.  They are a recognisable demograph - more likely to be right wing, more likely to be male and so forth.  Probably hundreds of other factors as well.  There are broad strokes that can be drawn about atheists just as there is about any group.  The issue is that saying "all atheists" isn't like saying "all brown eyed people" (i think thats the example you used) because, crucially, atheists are a self-selected group.  Obviously that group will have things in common.

Offline Valerian

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #182 on: December 04, 2012, 05:37:03 PM »
The frightening thing about threads like this is that there are self-professed atheists here who are holding themselves up as representative of atheism.  They make broad statements like the one highlighted above. 

I'm thankful that in my real life I know actual people who are atheists and are nothing like what I see here.  I'm frightened, though, that anyone not acquainted with atheism will get the wrong message by reading this thread and be turned.

Well, I'm fairly sure that no one here has been holding themselves up as being representative of atheism.  I haven't seen that at all.  The point most have been trying to make is that there isn't enough commonality among atheists to make them qualify as a cohesive group, as those who are religious tend to be.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by 'turned', as I also haven't noticed anyone attempting to recruit more atheists.  I'm basically an atheist, but I wouldn't dream of trying to convince anyone else to be one.  To each their own.  (I also wouldn't join any sort of a group, but that's because I'm shy and would dread the meetings.  ::))

Let me try to sum up the gist of what I think many people have been trying to say here.  The lives of those who are religious (have faith, in whatever sort of divine power they might believe in) are actively shaped by that faith and/or doctrine.  Faced with a difficult decision, a Christian asks what Jesus would do, for example.

The lives of those who are atheists are not shaped by their atheism.  I don't think about my lack of religious beliefs at all as a rule.  Why should I?  Religion has never had any significant part in my life and almost certainly never will.  My decisions are shaped by my experiences, the experiences of others, and the values my dad taught me.  Other atheists will have their own unique experiences and differing values, therefore we'll have very little commonality.

Please go back and read the quote in my post with the list of groups.

Also, according to another diatribe somewhere atheists don't use the word belief.  Check the list and click the link with the quote.  I didn't make that up.
That's apparently the opinion of one group and shouldn't be applied to everyone who calls themselves atheist.  Not all atheists will have the same aversion to any particular word.  We're not all in that particular bunch, or even any bunch at all, necessarily.

That does kind of hit on the main reason why most atheists tend to grate on me.  Even in a debate, their overall message seems to be "you're a damned idiot if you believe in anything but nothing".  I personally find that attitude more than a bit offensive.
I've... never heard anyone say that.  That sounds like nihilism.

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #183 on: December 04, 2012, 05:38:22 PM »
LunarSage,

Speaking for myself and more as an agnostic than an atheist, I find it's more important to appreciate life than worry about death. I also believe that you contribute meaningfully simply by how you add to the lives of others.

I do appreciate my life and celebrate it what little I have left thanks to someone who decided that beating me to bloody pulp was an appropriate response to my refusal to have sex with him.  He's an atheist too but I don't think that caused his deviant behavior.

I'm going to die but while I live I do the best I can to be a positive influence on the lives of others.  I believe in a hereafter, in a place where we all can go to meet up with others and where there is love without sadness and eternal life without sickness or disease.  I believe that the quality of our life after the death of our bodies is a direct reflection of the way we live our lives now.  I believe in a glorious and blessed eternity and nothing is going to change that for me least of all the prospect of an empty void filled with darkness and loneliness or as some would like to have it an abrupt cessation of our consciousness.

Offline LunarSageTopic starter

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #184 on: December 04, 2012, 05:42:32 PM »
I've... never heard anyone say that.  That sounds like nihilism.

Atheism means you don't believe in an afterlife, right?  That we just switch off into nothingness when we die? 

I've heard plenty of atheists with condescending attitudes when speaking to those who hold some sort of religion, as though they know in their cocky hearts that they're smarter than religious folks because of their belief that there is no higher power.  Most of which have been online.

Offline Sabby

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #185 on: December 04, 2012, 05:44:13 PM »
Just like with 'theory', you're confusing different uses of the word belief.

And take what down a few notches? :/ If you took that as personal, then you read it wrong. I said the assertion that Churches and Atheism are the same because they form groups was either dishonest or ignorant. You did not make that claim, as you clarified. So why would you be offended over a claim you did not make?

And Lunar, forgive me, but where do you get this impression? An understanding of reasonable doubt does not equal 'all beliefs are stupid'. Do you believe in Rhubarb Frankfurter? No? Well aren't you close minded then? Just because there's no rational reason to believe in him doesn't mean he don't exist.

You simply have a flawed understanding of Atheism, and you've displayed you have no desire to entertain the possibility of nothing beyond life. If you weren't so afraid of even considering it, you might realize Atheism does not say there is no afterlife. Just that no testable model has been presented, and no plausible theories, based on our current understanding of the world.

Offline Valerian

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #186 on: December 04, 2012, 05:52:18 PM »
Atheism means you don't believe in an afterlife, right?  That we just switch off into nothingness when we die? 

I've heard plenty of atheists with condescending attitudes when speaking to those who hold some sort of religion, as though they know in their cocky hearts that they're smarter than religious folks because of their belief that there is no higher power.  Most of which have been online.
Not quite.  Atheists are unconvinced about the possibility of an afterlife -- at least that's my take on it.  Nihilism is the view that nothing should be believed in because nothing is truly real and life is senseless.

If you believe in a religious afterlife, I wouldn't dream of being condescending about it.  I'm not sure how many actual atheists are in my circle, but I really don't even know anyone who would behave like that.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #187 on: December 04, 2012, 05:55:41 PM »
Thank you, Valerian.

I know quite a few Atheists (with a capital A that they use) who are rational and reasonable.  They have groups that they compare to congregations of religious and they meet frequently in each others homes as believers still do on occasion.  They support and encourage each other in their own beliefs.  Belief is a word they use for what has been called "opinion" at times.

My concern is that the number of people starting out in their adult endeavors need to see that there are other options open to them as atheists if that is what they choose. 

I personally don't care if a person wants to worship sink holes or call a fire hydrant god.  I know what I believe and how I feel about my faith and I do my best to keep it too myself and live my life as one who believes in heaven and an eternity with my god.

I don't know why it's wrong to feel that way and to be lumped in with a group I don't subscribed to.  If every atheist approaches their choice in a personal way then every person should have that option.  When a remark is made that atheists do not form groups why is it wrong to show there are groups of atheists out there who get together to discuss their choice and learn and study and support each other?  I'm not criticizing anyone or anything.  I'm pointing out a truth.

By turned I mean being led astray with the belief that all atheists are the same and are like those who say "I am an atheist and this is what you should be, too."  I don't like anger and I don't like hate.  I don't hate atheists.  I never have and never will.  I try to be open-minded and if anything my participation in this thread has less to do with religion or faith than it does with honesty and truth.  If I see an error I try to provide alternative information.  If there is reference material out there that say there are not groups of atheists I would welcome the information.


Offline Scribbles

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #188 on: December 04, 2012, 05:55:57 PM »
I do appreciate my life and celebrate it what little I have left thanks to someone who decided that beating me to bloody pulp was an appropriate response to my refusal to have sex with him.  He's an atheist too but I don't think that caused his deviant behavior.

Sorry Beguile, that's awful...

Just to be clear, I was definitely not trying to insinuate that those who believe in something after death don't appreciate life, I was just trying to offer my own view of death and hoped it might offer some insight into the views of others.

I do appreciate life... but to think that there is absolutely nothing after it is too frightening to even consider.

I don't doubt it, I used to be afraid of what comes after too.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 05:57:06 PM by Scribbles »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #189 on: December 04, 2012, 05:58:48 PM »
And take what down a few notches? :/ If you took that as personal, then you read it wrong. I said the assertion that Churches and Atheism are the same because they form groups was either dishonest or ignorant. You did not make that claim, as you clarified. So why would you be offended over a claim you did not make?

Because your post appeared to imply that you were responding to mine with the list of groups and as the only post that pointed out that there actually are many groups of Atheists or atheists I couldn't see an alternative meaning.

Offline LunarSageTopic starter

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #190 on: December 04, 2012, 05:59:38 PM »
Not quite.  Atheists are unconvinced about the possibility of an afterlife -- at least that's my take on it.  Nihilism is the view that nothing should be believed in because nothing is truly real and life is senseless.

If you believe in a religious afterlife, I wouldn't dream of being condescending about it.  I'm not sure how many actual atheists are in my circle, but I really don't even know anyone who would behave like that.

What you're describing as Atheism sounds a lot like what I consider to be Agnostic... the belief that one doesn't know all the answers when it comes to a god.

Being unconvinced and solidly believing that god does not exist are two different things in my eyes.

Offline Valerian

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #191 on: December 04, 2012, 06:08:35 PM »
What you're describing as Atheism sounds a lot like what I consider to be Agnostic... the belief that one doesn't know all the answers when it comes to a god.

Being unconvinced and solidly believing that god does not exist are two different things in my eyes.
Buddhists, for example, do not believe in a god but do believe in an afterlife, in the form of reincarnation.  So it's perfectly possible to be an atheist and still hope for an afterlife.

It still seems like what you were describing earlier was nihilism, though.

Online Remiel

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #192 on: December 04, 2012, 06:10:23 PM »
What you're describing as Atheism sounds a lot like what I consider to be Agnostic... the belief that one doesn't know all the answers when it comes to a god.

Being unconvinced and solidly believing that god does not exist are two different things in my eyes.

I agree.  The way I understand it, the Atheist (although perhaps Humanist would be a better term) says: "There is no god, no heaven, no hell.  All the mysteries of the universe are within the realm of understanding and science, we just haven't yet evolved to the point where we can make sense of them."

The Agnostic, on the other hand, says: "There could be a divine entity, I suppose, at work in the universe.  I just haven't seen any evidence to support this claim."

Offline Sabby

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #193 on: December 04, 2012, 06:14:57 PM »
It was. And as I said, you went on to clarify your point. I was responding to something unclear and you answered.

And Lunar, Atheism and Agnostism are not mutually exclusive.  You can be an Agnostic Atheism. I for one am open to the existence of ghosts, but I won't pretend to know how that could be proven true, and I'm also completely ready for a day when we know without a doubt that what we call a ghost is a scientific impossibility.

Quote from: Atheist-Community.org
Q: What's the difference between an atheist and an agnostic?

A: It has to do with the difference between what you believe and what you think you know. For any particular god that you can imagine, a "theist" is one who has a belief in that god. In contrast, an "atheist" is one who does not have a belief in the god. A "gnostic" is one who knows about the existence of god and an "agnostic" is one who thinks that god is unknowable.

Notice that the terms "atheist" and "agnostic", by these definitions, are not mutually exclusive. You could be an agnostic atheist, meaning you don't think that the existence of gods is knowable, but you don't choose to believe in one without further proof. Many people assume that atheists believe that gods can be proved not to exist, but this isn't strictly true and there is no proper word to describe this. You could call such a person an "untheist", perhaps. Or, you could just call such a person a "gnostic atheist", one who doesn't believe in a god and thinks that his non-belief can be proved.

So there are four possible ways one could be.

1. Agnostic-Theist: believes god exists, but the existence of a god is unknowable
2. Gnostic-Theist: believes in a god for which he claims knowledge
3. Agnostic-Atheist: does not believe god exists, but it can't be proved
4. Gnostic-Atheist: believes it can be proved that god does not exist

Case 3 is sometimes referred to as "weak atheism" and case 4 is sometimes referred to as "strong atheism". Only strong atheism positively asserts that there are no gods.

Finally, it should be pointed out that when a person is asked about their beliefs and replies that they are agnostic, they are avoiding the question and answering a different one. Someone who can't positively say he/she believes in a god is an atheist.

Going by this, I am actually pretty torn over which I fit... on one hand, I fit in category 3 because I don't believe something as ill defined as God can ever be reliably tested and thus proven to not exist.

On the other hand, I fit into 4 because the various concepts and ideas of 'Gods' or higher powers lead me to believe that nothing like them could be possible without a radical shift in our understanding of the universe.

I guess this makes me a category 3.5 Atheist xD

Online Remiel

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #194 on: December 04, 2012, 06:35:26 PM »
Quote
4. Gnostic-Atheist: believes it can be proved that god does not exist

But that's impossible.  That's like me saying, "I can prove that there are no unicorns in the world."    Certainly, no one has ever seen a unicorn, and we have absolutely no evidence that suggests unicorns exist, but it is logically impossible for me to claim that there are no unicorns in the world.   One cannot prove the negative of an assertion. 

Offline Sabby

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #195 on: December 04, 2012, 06:43:30 PM »
And what is a unicorn? A beast of mythology, or a recessive equine gene? You need to establish what something is before it is named true or false.

And we've gone thousands of years unable to establish what exactly God is. So yes, we cannot prove some intangible to be none existant, just like we cannot prove the immaterial to exist.

But people apply knowable models to God, and this is something we can actually test. Someone claims God manifests in any way, then it is testable.

Just like the genes for a horned horse can be found. Does it prove there were unicorns if we findthe genes? No. Does it show a unicorn is within the realm of possibility? Yes. Does the lack of a gene justify our belief that unicorns likely never existed? Yes.

Online Remiel

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #196 on: December 04, 2012, 06:59:55 PM »
Well, to continue with this analogy, when Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos islands in 1835, he catalogued many new species of animals previously not known to exist.  Indeed, new animal species are still being discovered today.

EDIT: THE ONIYAPEDIA STRIKES AGAIN!

So it's logically possible, although highly improbable, that there might be a species of horned albino equine somewhere on the planet that we haven't, for whatever reason, discovered until now.

My point is that it is impossible to claim that "God doesn't exist, and I can prove it".  That doesn't mean we shouldn't approach the matter with a healthy degree of skepticism. 

However, I don't think that the issue of whether God exists objectively or not is germaine to the original discussion, which is about faith, a deeply personal and subjective topic.

--
edit: fixed typo and added quotation marks to prevent confusion.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2012, 07:10:31 PM by Remiel »

Offline Sabby

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #197 on: December 04, 2012, 07:07:43 PM »
Then a line must be drawn between personal faith and religion to continue.

Offline Zeitgeist

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #198 on: December 04, 2012, 07:57:20 PM »
I am reminded of the cheeky and popular Internet mime that made its way through Facebook. It essentially said this:

If you're not gay then don't marry someone who is.

This was presumably a response to people who opposed gay marriage. If you're not gay, then you have nothing to worry about. Okay.

If you're not Christian, then don't observe Christian holidays.

Everyone of course is free to worship or observe holidays as they see fit but nothing in the constitution give license to any group and least of all the government, to impede upon others rights to practice and believe as they wish. Perhaps California should not offer up public space for these kinds of displays. If you want a nativity scene in your front yard, knock yourself out. If you're an atheist and you want to put up signs in your yard denigrating religion, knock yourself out.

If someone is going to espouse liberal inclusiveness, you don't get to pick and choose which groups you want to include. You're either inclusive or you are not. 

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Christians vs Atheists in California Nativity Debacle
« Reply #199 on: December 04, 2012, 09:00:03 PM »
Personally, I don't get atheism.  To not believe in anything... to solidly believe that when we die, we just blink out into nothingness, well just thinking about that possibility depresses the hell out of me.  If that's true, it means that life is meaningless and nothing we do matters. 

I can't believe that.
But, but... 'Belief'?  I thought atheists don't believe at all.  But to deny the existence of a deity figure(s) according to you requires belief.  But atheists deny that it's a belief...

This is not facetious, this is mind boggling to me.

To me, to an outsider here, who isn't sure about any of this, when I listen to Atheists claiming that they are sure that there is no God, and have all sorts reasons as to why, sounds very much like a belief system.  And to say that Atheism don't have 'baggage' that other 'religions' have is bull pucky.  Walk up to an Atheist and ask them politely about why they agree with it and really listen to what they say, rather than how, and you will see that it is as full as personal life experiences and choices and beliefs as any properly worshipped religion.

Atheism is as much a religion as Christianity to me.  Which, in my eyes, as long as it's respectful, is worthy of my ear and respect.  Whether or not I personally agree with it.