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Author Topic: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism  (Read 4628 times)

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Offline BeeJayTopic starter

What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« on: July 24, 2014, 11:40:38 AM »
I live in Georgia and I came out of the closet as an atheist long ago. Where I'm from, there are a lot of Christian folks, so every day I here a lot of 'god bless you's and such. When I tell people that I am an atheist, I usually get weird looks and sometimes people are even openly hostile or try to convert me on the spot. I welcome the conversion because it is an excuse to explain things like the superiority of secular morality and the logical high ground that atheists occupy. This thread is an attempt to gauge the feelings of the community about atheism and atheists.

I am usually find myself in the position of the contrarian, so I don't mind contrary opinions from any of you. I want to here what you think about atheism and why you think it, and discuss all the issues surrounding atheism and religion in society. My fondest wish with this thread is to strike up a rousing discussion, stretch my intellectual muscles and learn some things. My goal isn't to chastise the religious, so if you are a religious person who is iffy about posting, just know that I won't be mean or call you names. I might tell you that I think you're wrong, but I won't be mean about it.

Offline consortium11

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2014, 01:33:06 PM »
Considering how well previous threads along these lines on E tend to go (note; I'm not sure I've seen one that's had more than five replies that hasn't been locked eventually) and the fact there was one fairly recently that ended up being locked I can't say I'm entirely optimistic about this.

Regardless, here we go.

I'm pretty much ambivalent about atheists and atheism; the vast majority of my friends and acquaintances are non-religious ranging across the scale from just non-caring to somewhat militant atheists. My own personal beliefs are vaguely deist (albeit in a God of the Gaps sense which isn't really an argument most genuinely religious people like to advance) but I live my life in a way that few would be able to distinguish from atheism.

That said... 

I welcome the conversion because it is an excuse to explain things like the superiority of secular morality

This topic was touched on in the previous thread linked to above so it might be worth having a quick read through that, but there's is nothing inherently superior on either a "normal" or metaethical sense about secular morality to non-secular morality. It may be that certain systems of secular ethics are superior to certain systems of non-secular ethics but that doesn't prove the superiority of all secular ethics to all non-secular ethics any more then the fact that I'd argue certain non-secular ethics systems are superior to certain secular ethics systems means that all non-secular ethics are superior to secular ethics.

Offline Aiden

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2014, 01:52:03 PM »
I put them in the same category as religious people who annoy the shit out of me.

"No I don't care about your religion and no, I don't care that you think religion is fake." - Is my stance

Most atheist I have met, are annoying fuckwads sitting on their high horse of "enlightenment". I am so impartial to both sides I just tend to stay away from those discussions.

Offline Mathim

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2014, 02:13:33 PM »
Considering how well previous threads along these lines on E tend to go (note; I'm not sure I've seen one that's had more than five replies that hasn't been locked eventually) and the fact there was one fairly recently that ended up being locked I can't say I'm entirely optimistic about this.

Regardless, here we go.

I'm pretty much ambivalent about atheists and atheism; the vast majority of my friends and acquaintances are non-religious ranging across the scale from just non-caring to somewhat militant atheists. My own personal beliefs are vaguely deist (albeit in a God of the Gaps sense which isn't really an argument most genuinely religious people like to advance) but I live my life in a way that few would be able to distinguish from atheism.

That said... 

This topic was touched on in the previous thread linked to above so it might be worth having a quick read through that, but there's is nothing inherently superior on either a "normal" or metaethical sense about secular morality to non-secular morality. It may be that certain systems of secular ethics are superior to certain systems of non-secular ethics but that doesn't prove the superiority of all secular ethics to all non-secular ethics any more then the fact that I'd argue certain non-secular ethics systems are superior to certain secular ethics systems means that all non-secular ethics are superior to secular ethics.

I think if you merely consider that secular morality is derived from a series of logical and empirical studies to determine the best outcomes as opposed to a dogmatic 'because I said so' style of deciding right from wrong, that would be how a secular morality would be inherently superior, in that single sense. Obviously the popular secularist attitude of being pro-choice is going to seem inferior to the pro-life racket but their reasons for backing each side are entirely differently approached.

Atheism is fine with me but I really can't relate to the 'live and let live' kind of mentality really passive atheists have. I consider myself more what Bill Maher has described himself and others as, an anti-theist. There's just way too much wrong with the world that could be helped or prevented by enlightening the world and turning people away from their religious beliefs. Obviously there's not a lot of hope of that but if we are able to be vocal and provide education about a lot of religious falsehoods and myths to people who are ignorant of these facts, we can at least say we've done our duty even if all it does is piss them off and make them retreat further into blind faith. That's the high ground I think BeeJay was referring to, intellectual honesty if nothing else.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2014, 02:14:28 PM »
I put them in the same category as religious people who annoy the shit out of me.

"No I don't care about your religion and no, I don't care that you think religion is fake." - Is my stance

Most atheist I have met, are annoying fuckwads sitting on their high horse of "enlightenment". I am so impartial to both sides I just tend to stay away from those discussions.

I cant agree with this more. +1000000000000

Offline Retribution

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2014, 02:49:50 PM »
I cant agree with this more. +1000000000000

Add another *smiles* I tend to think most contrary people just try to show their behinds trying to raise up their own lagging self esteem. I call it over compensating.

Offline Beorning

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2014, 03:28:03 PM »
Speaking as one of the fuckwads... ;)

I'd say that there are different kinds of atheists and generalizations are quite unfair. I, for once, do not preach that being an atheist makes me superior etc. I actually respect religious people and I'm quite annoyed by those atheists that try to force their secular views down other people's throats....

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2014, 03:35:00 PM »
I don't really care what people are along the lines of atheists or believers.  That is a personal choice and no business of mine.  I don't preach or want to be preached to.  Since we are all more than just atheist or believer I take no more exception to being offered the trite and generic wish to have a good day than I do to being told God/god bless you.  When I am in need and am offered best wishes for a favorable outcome to my situation I don't stop to think about the affiliation the person might have but only that they are sharing themselves with me in the hopes my personal burden will be lightened. 

I don't like listening to anyone preach outside of meetings and church services.  I've had people in the secular world tell me I'm going to burn in hell for not agreeing with them and those in positions of power or authority speak to me in abusive ways and call me names presuming they have the right to judge me without exercising the responsibility to understand me.  I had one boss call me god damn fucking stupid and another person tell me I was deliberately hurtful.  Each of those encounters taught me something about myself because I am no stranger to self examination and I can walk away looking for more information (which is never offered by the name caller) and hoping the other person doesn't have a negative influence on someone else.

I don't think anyone, no matter how elevated their office or position, has the right to assume their opinions or dictates are the most or only valid ones even if they are willing to continually seek new information and examine all points of view and treat each person they deal with as a unique individual.  I don't even think the Pope is infallible as a person.  I think infallibility is a quality applied to the position and not the person in order to bolster the importance of what the current representative promulgates.

Atheist or believer:  It doesn't matter to me.  That is only a part of the equation, part of the person.  What matters to me is the impression the other person leaves behind and whether they have had a positive or negative impact on me or, on observation, anyone they are interacting with.

That is a bit more elaborate than Aiden's more succinctly stated opinion but I wholeheartedly agree with him.  Go be what you want to be and let everyone else alone.

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2014, 04:08:00 PM »
I am so impartial to both sides I just tend to stay away from those discussions.

Me too.  Almost every discussion about religion turns into an atheism vs. monotheism clash of egos. 

As a Hindu, my faith encourages the expression of other religions and philosophies, including atheism.  These are all thoughts and emotions we are all sharing about the unknown, and thus, we share more in common than we think.

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2014, 04:21:44 PM »
There seems to be some confusion about my "superiority" comment and I want to clear that up. When I claimed that secular morality is superior, I wasn't making the claim that people who practice secular morality are superior to those who don't. That argument might be able to be made, but I am not making it.

I'm not sure i even know what a 'fuckwad' is, but I never intended to shove my beliefs down anyone's throat. I just want to talk about it. I take issue with the unecessary insult and the presumtion that I am some kind of evangelical atheist.

Offline JLinz77

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2014, 04:45:42 PM »
I, too am from the south and it seems to be that church and believing in God is literally shoved down our throats growing up. I'm not an atheist nor am I one of those bible-thumping Christians but because of what I've seen as far as religion, I don't blame many for turning to atheism.

My impression? Just like I stated in the last paragraph; I understand why people would become an atheist. But, just like in Christianity, there are more than one type of atheists. There are the ones who try to back up their belief in the "if you can't see or touch it, it isn't real" argument. There are the ones who had something really bad happen to them and therefore stopped believing in a being who would let something like that happen to them. Then there are those who take a more logical and deeper look into everything. I know that there may be more but I see these as the main three categories. I'm the type of person to sit and listen to what you have to say, as far as the reason why you chose to become an atheist or chose to believe in any other religion. I don't argue with any of it because there are certain things that I have a problem with blindly following when it comes to Christianity; and I don't have the full knowledge to have an actual debate with anyone about it: I simply listen, let you know that I won't judge because of what you believe in and try to change the subject to something that I have a better understanding of!

There are two things that I am against: forcing a religion/belief on someone and hypocrites. Those two are the reasons why I wouldn't try to argue with someone about religion. For me to debate, I would have to be able to back my beliefs up with stated facts; if I don't go to church or read the bible faithfully, I have nothing to truly say. Me stating "Well, I believe in God so you're wrong about your beliefs" is blatantly childish and not backed up by anything aside from what I feel is right.

I took a few college courses a while back. Two of my favorite classes were Politics and Religion. I learned quite a lot from both, some things made me understand the world better and others actually enlightened me. After taking in what I learned, it gave me a better perspective as far as when I saw someone ranting and raving about how the government is this and that or (insert religion) is the only way. I don't know; just wanted to share that... sometimes I feel that a lot of people would benefit from taking those classes instead of being blind believers.

My personal belief? We won't know who is right until we die

Offline Lux12

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2014, 07:20:56 PM »
I put them in the same category as religious people who annoy the shit out of me.

Most atheist I have met, are annoying fuckwads sitting on their high horse of "enlightenment".
Amen.

To be honest I do not like them. They seem worse than the evangelicals they criticize in some regards and it seems more often than not if you mention any Divinity at all in passing they get up in arms. Often times they've come off as suspiciously conservative. So my feelings toward them are not amicable. In general they have an equally literalist interpretation of all things spiritual and don't seem to actually care about the message by various allegories and spiritual philosophy. I've gotten better advice (in a far less condescending fashion at that) and help from my distant Deities than them. Even if I'm not getting into my Spiritual philosophy conversations end with nothing beneficial coming of them.  To be honest I'd be happier if they said nothing of it at all. At least when the evangelists preach at me they have some reason to even if I dislike the right wing rhetoric they make tortured attempts to shove onto it. This idea that reality is simple and only skin deep is ludicrous to me. Also denial of the Divine's existence makes no logical sense to me. They do not see that the convictions of the religious is based in reason. Problems arise when they fail to truly listen to the cosmic reason within their paths.

To paraphrase the first Conan film... I ask that they grant me one request. Leave me and everyone else in peace and if they do not listen, then to hell with them. I wish to speak to the Divine without evangelists of either kind getting on my nerves.

I also don't think there needs to be a single answer. All religions at their core are true in their own ways.

Cosmic reality is one, but the wise perceive it in many ways-The Rig Veda

I apologize if I came off sounding a bit vindictive, but my experiences with them have not been pleasant.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2014, 07:22:01 PM by Lux12 »

Offline Blythe

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2014, 07:35:55 PM »
I don't think of atheists any differently than anyone else. I am an atheist, but it's not the only defining aspect of me.

So long as a person treats me with respect and does not try to change me/force me to believe something I don't, I will respect that person in return, regardless of a person's religion or lack of a religion.

Offline Euron Greyjoy

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2014, 10:18:32 PM »
Seeing how I used to be one,  they are okay. However, to say all Atheists are either X or Y is wrong. There are good Atheists and there bad ones, just like everyone else. They can be just as annoying as some Christians, by trying to show how "logical" and "rational" they are compared to the religious.

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2014, 11:19:33 PM »
I just got home from work, so my previous post wasn't a really proper response. I will construct one now, in reverse posting order.

Amen.

To be honest I do not like them. They seem worse than the evangelicals they criticize in some regards and it seems more often than not if you mention any Divinity at all in passing they get up in arms. Often times they've come off as suspiciously conservative. So my feelings toward them are not amicable. In general they have an equally literalist interpretation of all things spiritual and don't seem to actually care about the message by various allegories and spiritual philosophy. I've gotten better advice (in a far less condescending fashion at that) and help from my distant Deities than them. Even if I'm not getting into my Spiritual philosophy conversations end with nothing beneficial coming of them.  To be honest I'd be happier if they said nothing of it at all. At least when the evangelists preach at me they have some reason to even if I dislike the right wing rhetoric they make tortured attempts to shove onto it.

(Edit to separate the point out.)
This idea that reality is simple and only skin deep is ludicrous to me. Also denial of the Divine's existence makes no logical sense to me. They do not see that the convictions of the religious is based in reason. Problems arise when they fail to truly listen to the cosmic reason within their paths.

To paraphrase the first Conan film... I ask that they grant me one request. Leave me and everyone else in peace and if they do not listen, then to hell with them. I wish to speak to the Divine without evangelists of either kind getting on my nerves.

I also don't think there needs to be a single answer. All religions at their core are true in their own ways.

Cosmic reality is one, but the wise perceive it in many ways-The Rig Veda

I apologize if I came off sounding a bit vindictive, but my experiences with them have not been pleasant.

I respect your right to not like atheists. I think that opinion is rather ill-founded, but I have no problem respecting it. I know that there are some crass and disrespectful atheists out there, just like there are of any group of people. This phenomenon isn't unique to atheism or religion. You're allowed to think that evangelicals are less obnoxious than atheists as well, I think that statement is a generalization and isn't very helpful to discourse. The issue is much more complicated than you are making it seem, because you are lumping both atheists and evangelicals into two neat groups, when that just isn't the case at all. Atheism is the rejection of the claim that there is/are God/gods. Evangelizing means spreading the word of God with the intent to convert. Neither of these things can make up the whole of a person, so when you speak of 'atheists', you can only really speak of them in a capacity relevant to atheism. If the person is pushy and annoying, that isn't necessarily because they are an atheist. Evangelists are literally tasked with convincing people, so they sometimes are a little pushy as a matter of course, and a lot of them are downright annoying or fatuous, just like some atheists. That isn't the entire character of an evangelical though, either, and to sum them as 'less annoying overall than atheists' is fallacious.

Look up the "Argument from Ignorance Fallacy". The fact that you can't conceive of something doesn't mean that something is false or impossible. And to say that the convictions of believers is based in reason is a little bold. Most rational discussion with a theist comes down to, "Can you prove your god exists, because if you can't, then your aren't being reasonable". We can hash out that discussion now if you'd like to rebut that, but if you would rather not I respect your decision.

Well there aren't atheists evangelizing to you, because atheism is simply the rejection that a god or gods exist, as I stated earlier. Thus, they aren't trying to convert you to a belief. They may challenge your belief, but they aren't trying to move you anywhere except away from belief. Anti-theists might try to convince you though. They (myself included, but I am not working under that capacity in this thread) believe that all the evidence points to the fact that there aren't god or gods (Like atheists believe), and they just take the next step and claim positively that there aren't any such entities. I'm sorry you don't like social discourse, and it gets on your nerves, but it's a necessary process for societal progress and it won't be stopping anytime soon. I truly am sorry if anti-theists are getting in your face about the issue. I sympathize, because believers do it to me all the time.

To make a claim that any religion is true is to have evidence that isn't available to me. Would you mind making me aware of it?

Can you elaborate on what 'cosmic reality' means please?

It's not a problem. You seem sincere in your position, and I won't take it personally. I am sorry you have had bad experiences with non-theists (atheists, anti-theists).

I, too am from the south and it seems to be that church and believing in God is literally shoved down our throats growing up. I'm not an atheist nor am I one of those bible-thumping Christians but because of what I've seen as far as religion, I don't blame many for turning to atheism.

My impression? Just like I stated in the last paragraph; I understand why people would become an atheist. But, just like in Christianity, there are more than one type of atheists. There are the ones who try to back up their belief in the "if you can't see or touch it, it isn't real" argument. There are the ones who had something really bad happen to them and therefore stopped believing in a being who would let something like that happen to them. Then there are those who take a more logical and deeper look into everything. I know that there may be more but I see these as the main three categories. I'm the type of person to sit and listen to what you have to say, as far as the reason why you chose to become an atheist or chose to believe in any other religion. I don't argue with any of it because there are certain things that I have a problem with blindly following when it comes to Christianity; and I don't have the full knowledge to have an actual debate with anyone about it: I simply listen, let you know that I won't judge because of what you believe in and try to change the subject to something that I have a better understanding of!

There are two things that I am against: forcing a religion/belief on someone and hypocrites. Those two are the reasons why I wouldn't try to argue with someone about religion. For me to debate, I would have to be able to back my beliefs up with stated facts; if I don't go to church or read the bible faithfully, I have nothing to truly say. Me stating "Well, I believe in God so you're wrong about your beliefs" is blatantly childish and not backed up by anything aside from what I feel is right.

I took a few college courses a while back. Two of my favorite classes were Politics and Religion. I learned quite a lot from both, some things made me understand the world better and others actually enlightened me. After taking in what I learned, it gave me a better perspective as far as when I saw someone ranting and raving about how the government is this and that or (insert religion) is the only way. I don't know; just wanted to share that... sometimes I feel that a lot of people would benefit from taking those classes instead of being blind believers.

My personal belief? We won't know who is right until we die

I donít take issue with anything youíve said, really. Just wanted to say I respect your decision to not jump headfirst into a discussion without having done a lot of research, and that I respect your position about not knowing who is right. I donít know who is right, per se. Of course I think Iím right or I wouldnít be an atheist, but knowing and thinking arenít the same. There isnít anything wrong with saying that you donít know, and it is strictly wrong to say you do know when you donít. Thank you for your imput.

Me too.  Almost every discussion about religion turns into an atheism vs. monotheism clash of egos. 

As a Hindu, my faith encourages the expression of other religions and philosophies, including atheism.  These are all thoughts and emotions we are all sharing about the unknown, and thus, we share more in common than we think.

I can assure you that I will not be rubbing egos with anyone. I am a seeker of truth, not a lobbyist. I canít say the same for all atheists, but you wonít get it from me.

My issue with this point is that not everyone elseís religions and philosophies are conducive to a healthy society. The reason to have the debate is that religion and philosophy profoundly affects political policy and can start and sustain wars. Figuring out which religious or non-religious position we should build our societies on is not only beneficial to humanity, but necessary to ward off anarchy and tyranny.

Considering how well previous threads along these lines on E tend to go (note; I'm not sure I've seen one that's had more than five replies that hasn't been locked eventually) and the fact there was one fairly recently that ended up being locked I can't say I'm entirely optimistic about this.

Regardless, here we go.

I'm pretty much ambivalent about atheists and atheism; the vast majority of my friends and acquaintances are non-religious ranging across the scale from just non-caring to somewhat militant atheists. My own personal beliefs are vaguely deist (albeit in a God of the Gaps sense which isn't really an argument most genuinely religious people like to advance) but I live my life in a way that few would be able to distinguish from atheism.

That said... 

This topic was touched on in the previous thread linked to above so it might be worth having a quick read through that, but there's is nothing inherently superior on either a "normal" or metaethical sense about secular morality to non-secular morality. It may be that certain systems of secular ethics are superior to certain systems of non-secular ethics but that doesn't prove the superiority of all secular ethics to all non-secular ethics any more then the fact that I'd argue certain non-secular ethics systems are superior to certain secular ethics systems means that all non-secular ethics are superior to secular ethics.

I am addressing your points in the last paragraph. When I talk about the superiority of secular morality, I am referring mostly to the nature of modern secular morality that allows it to adapt to changing public opinion and socio-economic factors in general. When dogma is added to ethics, things tend to hold to the status quo for much longer, and thus progress to resolving conflicts of morality is made to stagnate. For example, the Roman Catholic Churchís policy on contraception and their missions in Africa are directly responsible for the lack of HIV prevention there. If there werenít religious dogma and irrational belief about contraception involved, HIV prevention wouldnít be actively negated. In 2008, a secular Roman Catholic Church would have taken into account the nearly 2 million deaths from AIDS, as well as the 33.4 million people living with HIV, and made necessary adjustments to mission policy. Of course the idea of a secular church sending out missions is kind of absurd, but my point stands regardless. My source of statistics is http://www.globalissues.org/article/90/aids-in-africa.

Offline Dice

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2014, 12:41:16 AM »
Public opinion is not always the best way to morally view the world. When not hampered by dogma yes you can adapt your view point faster, but not all changes made are always the best ones that can be made. In this, I do not want to preach or move in on my own views too much, I know people will agree and disagree with me. But I am an atheist and some of what has been done by secular governments has left me standing with the theists ideologically.

I think if you want to point at what is the difference between "Us and them", if you take out the fundamentalists on both sides, and look at the common faces, there is not a whole lot that is different. In the end we are all just trying to live our lives the best we can and help our those around us. While each side will view aspects of the others lives with suspicion and confusion, at the end of the day we are all human and when you move off the topic of faith, get along just fine.

Preach to me though and that view of mine gets swept away by a indignatious fury that ends only when you either shut up, or start to understand I have read more of the book you hold faith in than you have. Because if you read that dam book cover to cover, you will not believe in it. You just can't, there is too much in there that is just not possible to justify by a reasonable person and if you want to pick out the best parts and live your life by a code, that's fine. But you can not hold up the bible and say "This is the true word of God" without me showing to you that it was written by mortal hands from a viewpoint that no longer exists today.

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2014, 01:23:58 AM »
Public opinion is not always the best way to morally view the world. When not hampered by dogma yes you can adapt your view point faster, but not all changes made are always the best ones that can be made. In this, I do not want to preach or move in on my own views too much, I know people will agree and disagree with me. But I am an atheist and some of what has been done by secular governments has left me standing with the theists ideologically.

I think if you want to point at what is the difference between "Us and them", if you take out the fundamentalists on both sides, and look at the common faces, there is not a whole lot that is different. In the end we are all just trying to live our lives the best we can and help our those around us. While each side will view aspects of the others lives with suspicion and confusion, at the end of the day we are all human and when you move off the topic of faith, get along just fine.

Preach to me though and that view of mine gets swept away by a indignatious fury that ends only when you either shut up, or start to understand I have read more of the book you hold faith in than you have. Because if you read that dam book cover to cover, you will not believe in it. You just can't, there is too much in there that is just not possible to justify by a reasonable person and if you want to pick out the best parts and live your life by a code, that's fine. But you can not hold up the bible and say "This is the true word of God" without me showing to you that it was written by mortal hands from a viewpoint that no longer exists today.

I never said that public opinion was always the best indicator of morality, nor did I say it was the only factor. It is easy, however, to point to instances where changes in public opinion affected morality, for better or worse. It is possible to progress either toward a moral or an immoral society, but dogma hampers positive progression as well as negative and a great deal of harm has been done by this effect. I can only assume the secular movements you are referring to are the Stalinist and Nazi regimes, among others. If I am incorrect, please do let me know. My position as it pertains to secular tyranny, is that those regimes had dogma as well. While being secular itself doesn't preclude dogma, the worlds largest religions actually impose dogma as a matter of course. That means that there are secular societies with or without dogma, but there are only a scant few non-secular societies without dogma. When the fuhrer laid down a law, it was incontrovertible. That halts progress. The same applies to religious governance, but it is more frequent almost by definition. The difference is that when these atheist regimes indoctrinated their people and perpetrated atrocities, the world put its collective foot down and stopped them, albeit by a small margin. The same cannot be said of the Roman Catholic Church. The organization is directly responsible for harboring and protecting rapists and for millions of deaths yearly in Africa. Why shouldn't someone want to fight to change that?

I am not invoking 'us vs. them'. I am objectively evaluating methods and results and trying to determine what is right. I have a position that I claim is true, but I am not an enemy of those who disagree. There is nothing to be gained by fighting. The only thing that will help us make gains is by figuring out who is right and applying what we know. I agree that the faces aren't a whole lot different. For the most part, humans are decent and want to live their lives being as good as possible. I am just in disagreement as to how to do that. I take issue with the statement about humans getting along just fine, however. There hasn't been a time that I am aware of in human history where there hasn't been some kind of war going. Humans fight over many things, and they will find reasons to fight with each other, but religion is a huge elephant in the room. Religion is unquestioningly a strong reason for peoples to wage war. Secular peoples would not have religious grounds to fight in the first place, so they would have to find more substantial reasons.

I cannot take any issue with your last point. Well done.

Thank you for responding civilly. I hope to keep this thread as respectful as possible for as long as possible by sheer force of will (Due to my lack of moderating privileges :P ). I want to reiterate that my responses are not to be taken as snarky or mean. Read them like you would a text book or an encyclopedia. I want to keep as much inflection from showing in my words as possible.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2014, 01:46:43 AM »

Assuming that by "Atheism", you mean a belief that there is no god, my current stance is that there is not enough credible evidence to support the notion that a god ( however you might define one ) exists or that the gods of religious lore are real.

As for just letting people believe and proselytize as they will, I choose to point out the truth in public discussions about gods and religions. Not because I'm a "fuckwad" with a small penis and no self esteem, but because I have every right to contribute my point of view - just as the religion person does. If religious people are going to spread their religious propaganda, then I'm going to point out the flaws in their logic. Hopefully, the truth ( whatever that might be ) survives.

On the other hand.... I've been wondering lately, if religion has some sort of value and importance in the same way that art does. Art is not bound to fact, neither is religion. Art is good in that its an expression of our humanity, hope and struggles. I wonder if religion too - even if presented as if it was factual, has a similar abstract sort of value?


From a logical/rational point of view, religion seems cancerous, but so too does art if judged by the same standards.


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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2014, 03:59:48 AM »
I say live and let live.


What I don't like are Atheists that think that because someone believes in a spiritual entity, it is suddenly acceptable to mock those individuals and to try and make them "see reason" through insults and comments ranging from "hallucinations" to blatant attacks on a person's intellect,  then claim to hold a higher moral ground.

I have met people like this and the hypocrisy makes me laugh. These types of individuals are annoying, and in my opinion as bad as the extreme Christian fundamentalists.

I have also met many that understand that because I believe in God, it doesn't make me any less intelligent or more delusional than them.  They simply understand in my life, I need and like the presence of God. 

Anyone may disagree with me, that's fine.  However, I don't take kindly to to any attempt to belittle my beliefs or person. I don't do it to them, and expect the same common courtesy.   


Offline consortium11

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2014, 04:49:05 AM »
I think if you merely consider that secular morality is derived from a series of logical and empirical studies to determine the best outcomes as opposed to a dogmatic 'because I said so' style of deciding right from wrong, that would be how a secular morality would be inherently superior, in that single sense. Obviously the popular secularist attitude of being pro-choice is going to seem inferior to the pro-life racket but their reasons for backing each side are entirely differently approached.

1) The 'because I said so' style of deciding right from wrong isn't a criticism of all non-secular morality, just those which follow that method (primarily those with a deity who on some level proscribes right from wrong). It may be raised as a criticism of specific non-secular moralities but not as a whole.

2) Define "best outcomes" and how these can be logically and empirically reached... and how if these conclusions are reached logically and through empirical study that so many non-secular moral theories disagree with each other on a pretty fundamental level.

3) Touching on the first point with regard to a specific religion, there's a strong school of Christian thought which holds that God didn't make up or invent moral values, they are instead an intrinsic part of his nature and character; as God is supposedly the ultimate expression of moral values (kindness, love etc etc) and the universe is a expression of himself, those moral values thus apply to the world and it is/was up to humans to discover them. Aquinas, who is pretty much the definition and perfect example of a non-secular ethical theorist, holds that it is through what he describes as "practical reasonableness" that we discover these moral values and thus ought to live our lives through them. It's actually interesting to compare Aquinas' ethical approach and Kant's (arguably the leading secular ethicist) and note how similar they are not just in the end result but in the methods they choose to follow to get there.

4) Most natural law (and many moral realist) theories, whether secular or non-secular, have to rely on a "because I say so" element; it is a struggle for both to adequately explain where moral facts come from.

I am addressing your points in the last paragraph. When I talk about the superiority of secular morality, I am referring mostly to the nature of modern secular morality that allows it to adapt to changing public opinion and socio-economic factors in general. When dogma is added to ethics, things tend to hold to the status quo for much longer, and thus progress to resolving conflicts of morality is made to stagnate. For example, the Roman Catholic Churchís policy on contraception and their missions in Africa are directly responsible for the lack of HIV prevention there. If there werenít religious dogma and irrational belief about contraception involved, HIV prevention wouldnít be actively negated. In 2008, a secular Roman Catholic Church would have taken into account the nearly 2 million deaths from AIDS, as well as the 33.4 million people living with HIV, and made necessary adjustments to mission policy. Of course the idea of a secular church sending out missions is kind of absurd, but my point stands regardless. My source of statistics is http://www.globalissues.org/article/90/aids-in-africa.

That's a rather limited view of what constitutes secular ethics; under such a system any natural law or moral realist theory is thrown out, most notably Kant (and anyone who has in turn built on Kantian ethics).

To give a specific counter-example Norman Borlaug is generally credited as a man who saved a billion lives, generally through the Green Revolution. Yet he faced opposition throughout the process, notably when he tried to expand the program into Africa, from environmentalist groups generally of the secular variety, largely due to the fact that he used GM crops.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2014, 06:12:28 AM »
Most atheist I have met, are annoying fuckwads sitting on their high horse of "enlightenment". I am so impartial to both sides I just tend to stay away from those discussions.
These two sentences following each other is hilarious. Almost as hilarious as the number of people who have agreed wholeheartedly with this, and the number who have complained that atheists are insulting and condescending in a thread where this is the only overt insult.

I think if you merely consider that secular morality is derived from a series of logical and empirical studies to determine the best outcomes
Let's stop right there. So what you're saying is that, for example, there are no atheist misogynists or racists, since such positions are clearly not based in logic or sound empirical studies?

Or is secular morality just as likely to go off the rails depending on the biases of the person implementing it?

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2014, 09:02:27 AM »
My last post on this as it deteriorates in the predictable manner  :-)

The gist is Atheists complaining about preaching while preaching just from another angle is patently ludicrous. I would vote that some of the long winded vents in this very thread are doing just that. All of course while preaching in another form. It is every bit as vexing as the religious types who knock on my door and wake me from an afternoon nap. If you do not see that then argue against it till you are blue in the face it is nothing to me even if it simply illustrates my point.

[edit] May the force be with you or live long and prosper whatever does not offend you while I am trying to be polite.

~R~
« Last Edit: July 25, 2014, 09:13:29 AM by Retribution »

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2014, 12:01:21 PM »
...except "atheists are preachy" is almost as broad, and every bit as false, as "religious people are preachy". It's a stereotype we get saddled with, but that doesn't make it true. Further, for me at least the issue isn't "preaching" - it's more "religion is given a privileged role that is not justified in a pluralistic society". So... you're 0 for 2 there.

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2014, 12:44:48 PM »
My last post on this as it deteriorates in the predictable manner  :-)

The gist is Atheists complaining about preaching while preaching just from another angle is patently ludicrous. I would vote that some of the long winded vents in this very thread are doing just that. All of course while preaching in another form. It is every bit as vexing as the religious types who knock on my door and wake me from an afternoon nap. If you do not see that then argue against it till you are blue in the face it is nothing to me even if it simply illustrates my point.

[edit] May the force be with you or live long and prosper whatever does not offend you while I am trying to be polite.

~R~

Your point is erroneous. The OP, me, hasn't been preaching at all. And as far as I can tell, everyone in this thread has politely given their opinions and rebuttals with one minor exception, which was handled with respect by those it was directed at. It would seem to me that you aren't analyzing the pace of the thread properly. No one is preaching. We are having civil discourse, and no one is knocking on your door. You offered your opinion and entered the debate hall of your own free will. I won't be arguing blue in the face, because this isn't an emotional issue. It's a methodological and a logical one. No one is saying that all of the theists and agnostics should be rounded up and castrated. Stop inciting ire, please and thank you.

And of course I don't take offense at your opinion or tone. Thank you for that clarification.

Let's stop right there. So what you're saying is that, for example, there are no atheist misogynists or racists, since such positions are clearly not based in logic or sound empirical studies?

Or is secular morality just as likely to go off the rails depending on the biases of the person implementing it?


There are clearly atheists who have poor moral character. I think Mathim was saying that secular morality is derived from logical and empiric conclusions, but not that everyone considers the same things logical, nor does everyone think of 'the best outcome' the same way. Secular morality can be wrong, but I would argue that it is less wrong more often than nonsecular morality, not in principle necessarily, but in practice. Am I representing you correctly Mathim?

1) The 'because I said so' style of deciding right from wrong isn't a criticism of all non-secular morality, just those which follow that method (primarily those with a deity who on some level proscribes right from wrong). It may be raised as a criticism of specific non-secular moralities but not as a whole.

2) Define "best outcomes" and how these can be logically and empirically reached... and how if these conclusions are reached logically and through empirical study that so many non-secular moral theories disagree with each other on a pretty fundamental level.

3) Touching on the first point with regard to a specific religion, there's a strong school of Christian thought which holds that God didn't make up or invent moral values, they are instead an intrinsic part of his nature and character; as God is supposedly the ultimate expression of moral values (kindness, love etc etc) and the universe is a expression of himself, those moral values thus apply to the world and it is/was up to humans to discover them. Aquinas, who is pretty much the definition and perfect example of a non-secular ethical theorist, holds that it is through what he describes as "practical reasonableness" that we discover these moral values and thus ought to live our lives through them. It's actually interesting to compare Aquinas' ethical approach and Kant's (arguably the leading secular ethicist) and note how similar they are not just in the end result but in the methods they choose to follow to get there.

4) Most natural law (and many moral realist) theories, whether secular or non-secular, have to rely on a "because I say so" element; it is a struggle for both to adequately explain where moral facts come from.

That's a rather limited view of what constitutes secular ethics; under such a system any natural law or moral realist theory is thrown out, most notably Kant (and anyone who has in turn built on Kantian ethics).

To give a specific counter-example Norman Borlaug is generally credited as a man who saved a billion lives, generally through the Green Revolution. Yet he faced opposition throughout the process, notably when he tried to expand the program into Africa, from environmentalist groups generally of the secular variety, largely due to the fact that he used GM crops.

1. True, it can. The difference is that it often doesnít and there are many arguments against such things in secular philosophies, while many religious philosophies actively espouse it. Methods are important, but so are results.

2. The Ďbest outcomeí, according to some, is the reduction to the greatest reasonable degree of suffering for peoples of a specific society. Different people have different opinions about cost/benefit when it comes to logical and empirical conclusions. Here is a hypothetical example: A study shows that citizens who work for minimum wage are far more likely to commit violent crimes than citizens who do not. Some members of the legislative body of the community donít think that raising the minimum wage in order to decrease violent crime would be worth the hit to productivity in the society. Some others think that the financial hit would be worth it for the reduction of crime. That is an example of logical and empirical evidence leading sound-minded people to different conclusions. Disagreement isnít a stop sign to progress.

3. Letís say for a moment that every Christian believed what you outline, that Godís nature and character are intrinsically moral. Letís also say, though I am not claiming all Christians believe this, that this god is also all knowing (omniscient) and all powerful (omnipotent), and intervenes in the world, as many Christianís believe. Now we are faced with Epicurusí dilemma. This is a post from http://ericback.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/the-epicurean-dilemma/. Read the first few lines and you have my rebuttal to the claim that God is moral, all powerful and all knowing. Now, if he is moral, but not omni-anything, or even manifest in reality at all, why even have the concept of God? And in regards to Aquinasí statement about practical reasonableness, if secular and nonsecular societies practiced his views on the matter, there wouldnít need to be a discussion about it. My claim is the more often, secular societies are more prone to practical reasonableness. For example, abortion is practically reasonable with all that we know about science, but religious dogma is wasting taxpayer dollars clogging up the process with iron age ethics. That isnít practical reasonableness.

4. Secular society doesnít rely on Ďbecause I said soí. Secular societies and nonsecular societies that act exactly like secular ones, like England, have legislative and judicial discourse about issues, hashing out the issues and coming down on once side or another. Authority for enforcing laws comes down to ĎI said soí, but that is by proxy of the legal processes that decided the laws in the first place.

The example I gave was just a single example of a policy difference, not my entire view of secular ethics. Of course red tape and politics and cause some noble cause to be rejected, but my example is actually an example of religious ethics causing harm to people. There is a rather wide difference in our examples, donít you think?

I say live and let live.


What I don't like are Atheists that think that because someone believes in a spiritual entity, it is suddenly acceptable to mock those individuals and to try and make them "see reason" through insults and comments ranging from "hallucinations" to blatant attacks on a person's intellect,  then claim to hold a higher moral ground.

I have met people like this and the hypocrisy makes me laugh. These types of individuals are annoying, and in my opinion as bad as the extreme Christian fundamentalists.

I have also met many that understand that because I believe in God, it doesn't make me any less intelligent or more delusional than them.  They simply understand in my life, I need and like the presence of God. 

Anyone may disagree with me, that's fine.  However, I don't take kindly to to any attempt to belittle my beliefs or person. I don't do it to them, and expect the same common courtesy.   



I agree that atheists shouldnít mock the religious so much, though I think religious beliefs are laughable in private. But the ridicule does run both ways, I assure you. I would argue that, in our current world, secularists do hold the moral high ground. I think that the dogmas of the Abrahamic religious texts are immoral and harmful to society, and that secularists are fighting against abuse by the religious every day. One of my examples from earlier is the child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church that are still unresolved.

You believing in God doesnít make you less intelligent. Intelligent people are allowed to be wrong, after all. I might make you more delusional than a non-theist, but that isnít a scar on your entire character. Have you ever lost something and you swear you put it somewhere? You become convinced that someone else must have moved it? Then when you find out youíre sitting on it, you feel bad. That is how easy it is for a healthy human mind to be delusional. And when billions of people share your delusion and you have no obvious way to find that youíre sitting on what youíre looking for, it become nearly impossible to shake the delusion. I donít mean offense by my comments, so please do not read my statements as mean. :) Also bare in mind that non-theists can be delusional about the supernatural as well. Many non-theists believe in alien abduction and ghosts, and they are equally ridiculed by atheists.

I respect your wishes to not have your beliefs belittled. I wonít be trying to belittle them, but I will challenge them. If you do not wish to participate in that discussion with me, I will not be offended. Thank you for your imput.

Assuming that by "Atheism", you mean a belief that there is no god, my current stance is that there is not enough credible evidence to support the notion that a god ( however you might define one ) exists or that the gods of religious lore are real.

As for just letting people believe and proselytize as they will, I choose to point out the truth in public discussions about gods and religions. Not because I'm a "fuckwad" with a small penis and no self esteem, but because I have every right to contribute my point of view - just as the religion person does. If religious people are going to spread their religious propaganda, then I'm going to point out the flaws in their logic. Hopefully, the truth ( whatever that might be ) survives.

On the other hand.... I've been wondering lately, if religion has some sort of value and importance in the same way that art does. Art is not bound to fact, neither is religion. Art is good in that its an expression of our humanity, hope and struggles. I wonder if religion too - even if presented as if it was factual, has a similar abstract sort of value?


From a logical/rational point of view, religion seems cancerous, but so too does art if judged by the same standards.



Your assumption that atheism is the belief that a god or gods do not exist is false. Atheism is the rejection of religious claims that a god or gods exist. This means that we donít believe in supernatural claims until there is good evidence of them, not that we positively claim that there are no gods. Anti-theists make that claim, and anti-theists are also atheists, but not all atheists are anti-theists. As it happens, I am anit-theist, but I understand that the claim Ďthere is no Godí isnít substanciated, only extremely likely. I will not rebut your other points until you have the chance to adjust them.

Offline Oniya

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Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #24 on: July 25, 2014, 01:29:14 PM »
I'm going to weigh in with only two things:

One - as noted, threads of this nature do tend to get very heated, whether or not the OP wishes them to.  Everyone is reminded to behave with civility, regardless of your personal beliefs or lack thereof.

Two - If someone sincerely wishes you a Happy or Merry or Joyous anything, and you feel anger, the anger comes from inside you.  This, I believe, is a greater problem.