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Author Topic: Why I am an athiest  (Read 4889 times)

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Offline Valthazar

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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

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

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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

Online 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.