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Author Topic: The God Who wasn't there, a movie  (Read 1975 times)

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Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2014, 02:09:51 PM »
Sethala gets it. Hell, my brother believes Doctors and Scientists are the cause of much of the 1st worlds problems. Technically, his belief isn't hurting anyone right this second (I won't get into the potential damage such a belief can create in the long run), so why not just smile and nod and let him have it? Well, I care about him too much to placate him with reassuring fairytails. I want to know why he believes what he does, and I'll be honest with him about how it sounds. I want to treat him like an adult, not an emotionally charged and defensive child.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 02:13:35 PM by Sabby »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2014, 02:12:44 PM »

No, but usually they include a belief in something, not a rejection of a belief in something.

But is there a substantive, non-semantic difference between "I don't believe in a God", and "I believe there is no God"?

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2014, 02:15:50 PM »
But is there a substantive, non-semantic difference between "I don't believe in a God", and "I believe there is no God"?

Is there a difference between not believing in the Rondo Qualgimack and believing that the Rondo Qualgimack isn't there? I mean, just because I haven't convinced you that the Rondo Qualgimack exists doesn't mean you're turning around and saying "Ya know what, I'm now positive that it does not exist".
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 02:21:57 PM by Sabby »

Offline Mathim

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2014, 02:20:19 PM »
And most religious people are also atheists with respect to the gods and other deities of other religions. You could ask the same semantic questions about that.

Offline Blythe

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2014, 02:24:12 PM »
But is there a substantive, non-semantic difference between "I don't believe in a God", and "I believe there is no God"?

The difference is lack of belief versus active disbelief. The initial statement is the former, the second is the latter. It's the difference between simply lacking belief + being willing to debate vs. outright denial.

Atheists are usually the former (this is where I fall on the spectrum, personally). Anti-theists are more likely to be the latter.

Granted, my explanation may not be non-semantic, though. >_<
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 02:26:51 PM by Blythe »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #30 on: August 28, 2014, 02:27:37 PM »
The difference is lack of belief versus active disbelief. The initial statement is the former, the second is the latter. It's the difference between simply lacking belief and being willing to debate and outright denial.

Atheists are usually the former (this is where I fall on the spectrum, personally). Anti-theists are more likely to be the latter.

Granted, my explanation may not be non-semantic, though. >_<

It was usually how I understood the agnostic/atheist divide, myself. I don't think I have ever seen someone personally self-identify as an anti-theist, so the latter attitude in general was what got the atheist label.

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #31 on: August 28, 2014, 02:33:06 PM »
The difference is lack of belief versus active disbelief. The initial statement is the former, the second is the latter. It's the difference between simply lacking belief + being willing to debate vs. outright denial.

Atheists are usually the former (this is where I fall on the spectrum, personally). Anti-theists are more likely to be the latter.

Granted, my explanation may not be non-semantic, though. >_<

Anti-theism tends to be more of a socio-political thing then a Theological position. Strong Atheist is what your thinking of.

Offline Blythe

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #32 on: August 28, 2014, 02:36:09 PM »
It was usually how I understood the agnostic/atheist divide, myself. I don't think I have ever seen someone personally self-identify as an anti-theist, so the latter attitude in general was what got the atheist label.

I've seen individuals who have identified as anti-theist rather than atheist. There's a difference between the two in terms of approach and attitude, at least in how I have experienced it thus far. Anti-theists are more likely to be actively hostile to belief systems, where atheists are more likely to simply debate and question these systems.

Disclaimer: The above is my personal experience. Mileage may vary.

Anyways, on topic! The topic of the thread was essentially debating religion respectfully. I always try to do so, because it costs me nothing to be respectful while questioning and challenging, and it makes those I debate with more likely to debate in kind with me. My two cents worth.

Anti-theism tends to be more of a socio-political thing then a Theological position. Strong Atheist is what your thinking of.

Is it? I haven't gotten to read a lot of resources about anti-theism, mostly out of lack of interest, but it looks like I need to refresh a gap in my knowledge. Is there a good source you could recommend so I can remedy that?  :-)

I've seen anti-theism discussed as an actual theological position, but this was in isolated cases where I was just talking with people in real life, so I'm aware that's anecdotal and not a good thing to base my knowledge on if I can avoid it.

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2014, 02:43:14 PM »
Is it? I haven't gotten to read a lot of resources about anti-theism, mostly out of lack of interest, but it looks like I need to refresh a gap in my knowledge. Is there a good source you could recommend so I can remedy that?  :-)

I've seen anti-theism discussed as an actual theological position, but this was in isolated cases where I was just talking with people in real life, so I'm aware that's anecdotal and not a good thing to base my knowledge on if I can avoid it.

Not that I know of, though I suppose you could try Iron Chariots or Talk Origins. Many Anti-theists do actively believe that God isn't real, just like many Atheists do. Anti-theism is the position that Theism in general is kind of a bad thing and we'd be better off without it. You can be both a Weak Atheist (on the fence about God) and an Anti-Theist (thinks Religious organizations and beliefs are bad for society) at the same time.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2014, 02:58:05 PM »
Does that mean the antecedent is possible, a 'Strong Atheist' who nonetheless believes religious organizations and structures have been or are beneficial to society?

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2014, 03:02:03 PM »
I see no reason why not.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #36 on: August 28, 2014, 03:02:11 PM »
Because, to many people, an uncomfortable truth is preferable to a comfortable lie.  In the mind of atheists, belief in a god is just belief in a lie, no different than believing in Santa or the tooth fairy.  To them, convincing someone to give up their faith is not much different than a Christian person trying to save someone's soul by converting them to Christianity.
This does not apply to the majority of atheists or believers that I know personally.  The fundamentalist fringe of atheists and believers are basically ignored by most of us.  We view the proselytizing atheist and the proselytizing believer in the same light.

Offline DemonessOfDeathValleyTopic starter

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2014, 04:01:25 PM »
Sethala, if you'd like, go ahead and state your opinion.

Offline Sethala

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2014, 04:59:13 PM »
This does not apply to the majority of atheists or believers that I know personally.  The fundamentalist fringe of atheists and believers are basically ignored by most of us.  We view the proselytizing atheist and the proselytizing believer in the same light.

Right, I was over-generalizing there; I should have made it clearer that I was talking about atheists (and believers, for that matter) that go out of their way to proselytize, even if the recipient doesn't want it.

Sethala, if you'd like, go ahead and state your opinion.

In the interest of not derailing the thread, sending a PM.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #39 on: August 29, 2014, 04:18:14 AM »
I think that in the same way that being conflicted with dissimilar beliefs ( I need to save money / I need to buy luxury X now!)  can cause a person distress, having a belief that conflicts with others can cause the same sort of stress - Especially when we both need to be right and only one of us can be right. I think the smug slaps that we sometimes dole out to those with beliefs that conflict with our own are an attempt to soothe our own discomfort.

I'll just say that this seems to be the case for myself. I'm guilty of this and need to change this.

I didn't see the video, but perhaps its that and a little smidgen of manipulation too? ie. "If I can't persuade you to change your beliefs to something harmonious with my own, then I'll try and shame you into it so I can feel better and get on with my day."


Offline ImaginedScenes

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #40 on: August 31, 2014, 01:08:17 AM »
It's common for people who have recently had a major change in beliefs to want to convince or warn others to be the same way. Happens to people with religion, conspiracy theories, and politics. I've seen people get so warpped up in their emotions and new mindset that for the first few months they are willing to give undue credibility to anything that lines up with their new position, and they aren't very tactful with people who disagree.

Someone said the guy making the movie might have an agenda. That also might be true. If the movie is about making money, hate sells more than kindness today.

Please don't confuse the two things above for the thoughts and actions of normal atheists.


Atheism isn't a faith or belief. Atheism is just saying I don't see good reason to believe there's a god. Naturalism is a belief. That means believing that only things that we can scientifically observe or deduce actually exist. No ghosts or gods or fate or any of that. I call those things bollocks, but I also understand that some people feel they have logical reasons to believe those things exist. It's bollocks to me. Like it's Greek to me, yeah?

I don't go around telling people they shouldn't believe things I think are bollocks. I do tell people why I don't buy the idea that there's a god and why I think things are bollocks if someone asks me about my views and wants me to explain.

Wil Wheaton's Rule. Don't be a dick.

Don't stick your nose into other people's lives like they owe you, yeah? It's like you don't go to a 70s dance club to shout about how bad the music is.

Offline Drake Valentine

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #41 on: August 31, 2014, 11:44:32 AM »
Sounds like a movie I would enjoy to watch(going by the title,) except it is a documentary and I hate documentaries.  :-\
« Last Edit: August 31, 2014, 11:45:56 AM by Drake Valentine »

Offline HannibalBarca

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #42 on: October 08, 2014, 11:46:50 PM »
I've lived on both sides of the spectrum, having been raised in a very strict Catholic household, and passing through a gamut of phases--Protestantism, Deism, Buddhism, and then finally Atheism.  I understand the argument from the religious side.  I understand the argument from the atheist side.  And I think this, more than anything, is what people need--empathy.  Try to see it from the other person's point of view before you begin debating or discussing it with them.  Regardless of how much you agree or disagree with someone, remember their basic, integral humanity.

Here, for me, is one of the disturbing, frightening things I have found in a poll (Pew Research I believe, not sure of which date, I don't have the citation)--that atheists are placed lower on the trustworthy scale than Islamic Fundamentalists and pedophile priests by the general U.S. population.  I have different ideas on why this is so, but mostly I tend to think it is because the majority of the U.S. is religious, and if you go deep enough into a person's psyche, I think that a perceived attack on a god in one religion is an attack on any god...in other words, religion makes strange bedfellows as much as politics, and in one light, an American Christian has more in common with a Muslim from Iran than an American atheist.

I've been asked that, without a belief in God, how can I have any morality?  This kind of monolithic, arrogant thinking runs the same course as basic racism, sexism, and other -isms--if you're not like me, you must be wrong; not only wrong, but evil.  It might be coined the Golden Rule from the Bible's version of it, but the precept of treating others with respect is universal to the human condition--the hard part is applying it at all times, even if you don't agree or like someone else.

Offline Kythia

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #43 on: October 09, 2014, 11:02:54 AM »
I've been asked that, without a belief in God, how can I have any morality?  This kind of monolithic, arrogant thinking runs the same course as basic racism, sexism, and other -isms--if you're not like me, you must be wrong; not only wrong, but evil. 

Just to chime in quickly, I don't find that an unreasonable question in the slightest.  Now sure, it could be asked in an unreasonable manner but lacking any tone of voice or anything - just taking the pure words - it sounds like a fair thing to ask.  If A.N. Divine Being isn't the source of your morality, what is?  There are numerous possible answers (utilitarianism of some stripe seems quite popular in these boards), but "That's a monolithic and arrogant question" doesn't seem to be a valid one. 

I really think you're being unreasonable there.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #44 on: October 09, 2014, 11:08:55 AM »
I think the arrogance comes from people assuming that no belief in $DEITY equates to no morality.  (Outside of Philosophy classes, it is very rare to come across that question asked for purely curiosity's sake.)

Offline Kythia

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #45 on: October 09, 2014, 11:22:14 AM »
I've never taken a strict philosophy class, but I have taken a lot of theology ones and discussed religion online and off, and its a question I've asked and been asked quite often.  Basically, it comes up in discussions of religion really quite regularly.  One would assume that's the context Hannibal has been asked it rather than someone suddenly blurting it out in the middle of an analysis of yesterday's football.  And, as I say, I don;t find the question intrinsically arrogant..

*shrug*

Offline consortium11

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #46 on: October 09, 2014, 11:57:17 AM »
If A.N. Divine Being isn't the source of your morality, what is?  There are numerous possible answers (utilitarianism of some stripe seems quite popular in these boards), but "That's a monolithic and arrogant question" doesn't seem to be a valid one. 

I really think you're being unreasonable there.

At the risk of dragging us off-topic...

"Utilitarianism" isn't really an answer to that question as utilitarianism is a form of normative ethics while the question as to what is the source of morality is a metaethical one. In essence a normative position such as utilitarianism is about how to be moral but the various metaethical positions are about what morals actually are, where do they come from and why we should care about them. If you try to plug utilitarianism into a methaethical analysis it falls apart and becomes circular because it's not intended to solve those questions.

For those with a religious belief metaethical questions can be explained relatively quickly and simply; there is a being or system (most notably God but one could also consider karma for example) which through command, its nature or some other method has set out what is moral and what isn't. Morals are thus statements of reality, they come from that being or system and we should follow them because to do otherwise is to go against that being or system. One can agree or disagree with the strength of such an argument (and there are many convincing... and not so convincing... arguments on it) but the argument itself is fairly basic.

For those who don't believe in a being of that type or such a system the position becomes somewhat harder to justify. Is there an absolute morality or is everything individual and subjective? Beyond that, even if we accept that morality is objective should it also take account of circumstance and thus be somewhat relative? Is speaking of "morals" any different to speaking of "preferences" or "likes and dislikes"... i.e. when I say killing is wrong am I just saying that I don't like killing much in the same way (if more forcefully) then I may say I don't like cottage pie? How do I discover what is moral? If I do discover morals, how can I turn an "is" (it is wrong to kill) to an "ought" (I ought not to kill). Even if I discover that I ought not to kill, why shouldn't I kill? That's just a few examples.

Most of the "without God there can't be morality" arguments I've seen have actually had a narrower focus and tended to be based around whether moral realism/objective morality can survive without God. I touched on this in a previous thread where BeeJay (who was taking the atheist position) argued that it wasn't really an issue as objective morality didn't exist but there is also consider amount of secular writing out there arguing that it can; Michael Martin's a good "go to" guy for questions on that nature.

Whether it can or can't, I think it's a legitimate question to ask... although I rather expect that most who ask it do so in a pretty uncivil way and without much grounding in the topic themselves.

Offline Oniya

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #47 on: October 09, 2014, 12:06:18 PM »
although I rather expect that most who ask it do so in a pretty uncivil way and without much grounding in the topic themselves.

This is the bit that I was getting at, yes.

Offline Kythia

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #48 on: October 09, 2014, 12:11:11 PM »
I agree it's radically off topic (and if you want to continue it via PM I'd be happy to) but you're seizing on one definition and ignoring other perfectly valid ones.  I was, for the record, using it in a pretty well accepted normative sense - wikipedia defines it as:

Quote
In its normative sense, "morality" refers to whatever (if anything) is actually right or wrong, which may be independent of the values or mores held by any particular peoples or cultures. Normative ethics is the branch of philosophy which studies morality in this sense.

while the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy definition begins here/

Offline Sheoldred

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #49 on: October 09, 2014, 05:49:07 PM »
Just to chime in quickly, I don't find that an unreasonable question in the slightest.  Now sure, it could be asked in an unreasonable manner but lacking any tone of voice or anything - just taking the pure words - it sounds like a fair thing to ask.  If A.N. Divine Being isn't the source of your morality, what is?  There are numerous possible answers (utilitarianism of some stripe seems quite popular in these boards), but "That's a monolithic and arrogant question" doesn't seem to be a valid one. 

I really think you're being unreasonable there.

What about evolution itself? We are simply 'programmed' by default to work together as a team and be kind to one another, imo, just like ants have a hivemind. Generally speaking, a person who takes pleasure from another person's discomfort, pain, and so forth isn't exactly mentally healthy. Whenever people steal or murder each-other it is because of some necessity(illusionary or not), or their own immense pain the source of which they believe to be another person. Very few psychopaths naturally feel the urge to kill and make others feel bad without a proper reason as far as I know. Of course a lot depends on the way we are brought up.