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Author Topic: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement  (Read 7634 times)

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Online HannibalBarcaTopic starter

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Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« on: January 22, 2017, 02:52:19 PM »


I was recently talking to an acquaintance of mine who happens to be, like me, very much to the left politically.  When I revealed, however, that I was an atheist, she made no comment on it, but acted standoffish after the fact.  I didn't want this opportunity to pass, though, and asked her if she was uncomfortable with my revelation.  She said she was, and didn't want to go further for fear of insulting me.  I let her know that I wanted her to ask me anything she wanted to know because, as she knew from her own experience as an African-American woman, assumptions about other people and their experiences usually lead to mistakes and misunderstandings.  I found from our conversation that followed that she had very little factual evidence about atheists in general.

I've recognized I was an atheist since I was 28 or so, but I had the same concepts and understandings long before that, as far back as my childhood.  It isn't something that's easily explained in a short session, but, like any personality, takes time to explain.  I don't speak for all atheists, because atheism is simply a lack of belief in a deity, but I find there are a lot of misconceptions and erroneous beliefs about me and my fellow atheists.

I believe in engagement before argument.  Discussing and explaining work better than confrontation in most instances.  There are times when confrontation is necessary, but there are a lot of people who have emotional attachments to their beliefs, and when someone speaks up who doesn't hold those beliefs, they can get angry or hurt.  This thread is meant as a place for explanation, understanding, and discussion, not argument.  Other threads can be made for those, and others already exist.

Some basics about atheism:

--As I mentioned above, atheism is a lack of belief in a deity.  That's it.  It is not believing there is no god, it is no belief in a god.  There is a critical difference in those two statements.  Most atheists tend to be rationalists, and often apistevists like me, which is someone who only accepts things on evidence.  Most Christians can easily be called nonbelievers when it comes to other religions.  They have no belief in them.  As Richard Dawkins once said, "Atheists just go one god further."

--We don't worship the devil.  Lack of a belief in the Christian Yahweh also means lack of a belief in the Christian Satan.  No religion is accepted, nor any of their deities, demons, or other supernatural creatures.  There are atheists who believe in things I don't agree on, such as alien visitations, bigfoot, and so on.  The only thing that connects atheists to one another is their lack of belief.

--Most atheists accept that the burden of proof of any claim is on the one making a claim.  Therefore, when we state, 'you have no proof there is a god', responding with, 'there is no proof there isn't a god' is not a sufficient response to make us believe.  The burden of proof is on the person making a claim--the person saying there is a <particular> god.  Claiming leprechauns exist, or fairies, or a teapot in orbit around Saturn, all need evidence to make an atheist accept them as true.  God-claims fit in the same category.  After all, there are thousands of religions, and every one of them makes claims of existence of their deity.  Until one of them brings forth evidence for the existence of said deity, we atheists suspend judgement.

--I said we atheists suspend judgement, but there are varieties of atheism.  Strong atheism claims there is no god.  Most atheists are weak atheists, like me, who claim that we don't know there is a god.  We think, sure, there is a possibility there might be a god, however small, but...if someone can't provide evidence of that god, then why bother believing in it?  Like I mentioned before, there are thousands of deities that have been worshiped in the world throughout history...why believe any of them with no evidence of their existence?

--Atheism and agnosticism are not on the same spectrum.  A-theism is lack of belief in a deity.  A-gnosticism is lack of knowledge.  it works like this:

Theist/atheist=====>believer/non-believer
Gnostic/agnostic====>someone who knows/someone who doesn't know

There are gnostic theists--people who believe in a god and claim to know that god exists.  There are agnostic theists--people who believe in a god, but say they have no knowledge (proof) that god exists.  There are gnostic atheists--people who have no belief in a god, and claim to know no gods exist.  There are agnostic atheists--people who have no belief in a god, and claim to have no knowledge whether gods exist or not.  I fit in the final category.  For all intents and purposes, I don't think there are any gods, but I remain open to any evidence that would prove they do.


And so, I hope to remove some of the mystery and confusion that surrounds atheism.  I hope for a friendly and fruitful discussion!
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 02:19:11 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline elone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 11:01:05 PM »
I am surprised by the lack of comment here.

My personal belief is that there is no god or any other divine person/thing/entity. All notions of such are human made to:

1. In ancient times to explain that which science had yet to determine as truth.

2. To provide a continuation of life, ie. reincarnation, heaven, hell, whatever. Mankind's inability to accept death as the end.

3. To enforce that ones own beliefs are better than others, thus creating a feeling of superiority over others.

I am not a student of religion, these are my own beliefs. I am mostly in agreement with HannibalBarca. I also realize that faith for many supersedes the rational and scientific. That is fine.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2017, 11:03:27 PM by elone »

Offline midnightblack

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2017, 03:32:06 AM »
I've been an atheist since some time around primary school. At a class of religious education, the teacher once explained that people have children in order to redeem themselves in the eyes of god. Not having children for any reason equates to not fulfilling your duty as a human being and condemns you to everlasting flames. No matter what. That and series of other allegations worthy of the darkest corners of the mind made me tell myself I can't take these things seriously, and I've disregarded them ever since.

That aside, I'm fine with any kind of belief as long as its practice does not bring harm to the people around you. I don't think there's much room for explanations or rational discussions on this topic. It's something you need to sort out inside, just with yourself. Regardless of your conclusions, remember to keep in stock a good dose of respect and tolerance for the world around you. To each his own, I guess.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2017, 04:12:13 AM »
Same here, for the most part; I don't believe in God or gods or anything of the kind, but I have no inherent issue with those that do. I only have an issue with you if you use those beliefs as an excuse to oppress, isolate, victimise or otherwise harm other people. I will discuss and debate any religious person who decides that they want that conversation with me, but I will not go out actively seeking those conversations even if I do find them interesting.

I do what I consider right and wrong because of a personal moral code that basically sums up as "do unto others as they would have done unto them." I understand that  am a living, thinking human being on Planet Earth, and that to survive, we all need to get along at least on some basic level. Our lives are short and I do not believe that there is anything afterwards...so we might as well make them as comfortable and productive as we possibly can.

Past that...I don't care what you believe, so long as you're treating other people with the respect and dignity that they deserve. :-)

Offline Silk

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 12:11:48 PM »
Pretty much as the above, although I'll admit there is an additional caviat that often annoys me in regards to religion.

It's the simple notion of giving thanks to god for something happening that either you or someone else made happen, Thank the surgeon for that successful surgery! Don't put yourself down and say it's God that allowed you to do X thing, you did X thing, regardless of ethos, your the one that made it happen. Give credit to the good that people do too ya know?


Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2017, 12:27:26 PM »
Thanks for the description of atheism and agnosticism as different spectra - I've heard many people conflate the two (both as claiming someone else is [y] or that they themselves are [y].)  It makes more sense to separate them.

No questions at the moment, but I'm always interested to read these sorts of threads.

Offline Blythe

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2017, 01:09:44 PM »
There are agnostic atheists--people who have no belief in a god, and claim to have no knowledge whether gods exist or not.  I fit in the final category.  For all intents and purposes, I don't think there are any gods, but I remain open to any evidence that would prove they do.

I, too, fall in this category--it's always nice to see other agnostic atheists out there. :)

Neat thread, thanks for making it. Going to bookmark this one!

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2017, 01:23:59 PM »
I've known quite a few theists and atheists, believers, un-believers and non-believers, those who feel they know and those who claim to not know and find a kind of commonality among them.  Not all people share this trait but most of them do and it isn't limited to any one group.  When any of these people speak up about their faith, belief or knowledge they do so with an air of challenge in their conversation, as though it is necessary for them to convince their audience of the rightness of their position. 

Over time I've adjusted to a firm resolve of not discussing my own stand on any of this, mostly because it is a personal choice and not the business of anyone else, and the belief that discussing it in any way is akin to preaching.  I use the word challenge as that is how I feel I'm being treated most of the time, rather than preaching, to describe the behavior of others.  One of the most forceful of these challengers is a self-described atheist who does seek to convert others and gets very frustrated because all I do is let him talk when I have the time.  I don't interact or respond in any way because like so many I've heard from, here on E and in other places, no one likes anyone who tells us what to believe or not believe.

Two things I have learned as I get closer to my own demise have helped me adjust my own philosophy about faith or non-faith as one atheist friend calls it.

First, any organized group, some would call it religion, has nothing to do with our own personal and core belief or non-belief.  It is a tool and like any tool, a hammer, a screw driver, or a drill, it can be used to create or destroy.  We choose, individually, what we want to create and how much we want to destroy.  The other thing is that there is a common thread that unites all of us and no matter what we hold close to us there is no way to know, no way to prove, what is or isn't beyond this physical life until we get there or as another atheist friend says, we don't get there.  Challenging others or justifying and defending what we think we know isn't necessary.  Living the best life we can, no matter what, without the expectation or desire for reward is the only thing that matters.

When others aren't able to follow this, I say ignore them and move on because talking about it and complaining about the challenging others do is hypocritical.

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2017, 04:56:44 PM »
Thanks for the description of atheism and agnosticism as different spectra - I've heard many people conflate the two (both as claiming someone else is [y] or that they themselves are [y].)  It makes more sense to separate them.

No questions at the moment, but I'm always interested to read these sorts of threads.

There's nothing more frustrating than when a religious person tries to set up a "Gotcha!"-moment, by claiming that it's somehow impossible to be atheist, because they don't understand what it means to be agnostic.

I am an atheist myself. I think religion is fascinating, and studying it is something I have dedicated a lot of time to. I think it's very important to be able to see the world through the eyes of someone who isn't like you, and understand why they feel and think the way they do.

I don't really have any questions either, but I wanted to show my support for this thread! :)

Online HannibalBarcaTopic starter

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2017, 06:48:56 PM »
Even as a child I had an inkling that what my parents and others told me about God was not true.  To me, most people are religious because they were raised that way.  If religious teaching of any kind was withheld until the age of reason, I think that most people would react to their parents' religion much how they react to other religions--with skepticism and disbelief.

I was raised Catholic.  My parents weren't the most strict Catholics, either, though they were mostly conservative in outlook.  My mother used birth control, and they also believed women should be able to be priests and the priesthood should be able to marry.  We all left the church as a family when I was 19-20, but they and my two younger brothers ended up becoming evangelical Christians.  I'm the only non-believer in my family.

I was taught as a teen, in Sunday school, that atheists were evil people who sought to tear down the American way of life and Christianity, and were tools of the devil.  Even at that point, I was doubtful of what I was told.  I never had the utter faith of so many other people as far as God.  I always had a core of doubt and skepticism, even if I paid it all lip service.  My logic couldn't reconcile the many contradictions in the Bible, as well as the contradictions in Catholicism itself.  I didn't just accept what I was told without question.  My parents had taught me this way, even if it was in conflict with the religion they believed and raised me in.  The cognitive dissonance, as I know it now, was thick and heavy.

When I was in my mid-20s, I read the Christian apologetics of C.S. Lewis, mostly as a way to try to get my doubts to quiet down.  It didn't work.  My love of science fiction led me to reading Isaac Asimov, but the thing is that Asimov wrote much more than science fiction.  I happened to read many of his essays on science and other topics, including religion.  I discovered he was an atheist, and that I also agreed with him on many issues.  I didn't consider myself an atheist, however.  I had studied many religions, and was more of the mind that there was some god out there, and all the religions in the world worshiped it in different ways.  I was no longer Christian, however.

It was when I bought The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, though, that my last vestiges of theism were scoured away.  He argued so eloquently and so clearly against the belief in a deity that when I finished the book, I was convinced it was all a waste of time and energy.  It wasn't until I later read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, that I became an anti-theist.

Just what is an anti-theist?  Basically, it means I'm against religion in general, because I believe that throughout history, religion has brought great harm to humanity in general.  As long as people keep their religion to themselves, I don't have a problem.  But it isn't kept to themselves.  Missionaries are not the worst of getting into other people's lives.  Pushing a religious agenda into our government is the worst part--forcing other people to adhere to your religious beliefs in some way through legislation.  My reading of Sagan and Dawkins and Hitchens provided evidence of how much woe has been caused by religion.  Some good things have been done, true.  But mostly it has served to create discord between people of different cultures and societies.

Stephen Weinberg said, “in the ordinary moral universe, the good will do the best they can, the worst will do the worst they can, but if you want to make good people do wicked things, you’ll need religion”.


« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 09:07:53 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2017, 09:43:50 PM »

Just what is an anti-theist?  Basically, it means I'm against religion in general, because I believe that throughout history, religion has brought great harm to humanity in general.  As long as people keep their religion to themselves, I don't have a problem.  But it isn't kept to themselves.  Missionaries are not the worst of getting into other people's lives.  Pushing a religious agenda into our government is the worst part--forcing other people to adhere to your religious beliefs in some way through legislation.  My reading of Sagan and Dawkins and Hitchens provided evidence of how much woe has been caused by religion.  Some good things have been done, true.  But mostly it has served to create discord between people of different cultures and societies.


This does remind me of something - how common do you find anti-theism to be among atheists, as opposed to the more passive sort of live-and-let-live attitude that people like Virgil and midnight have mentioned? I was raised in an almost completely irreligious household (baptized as a baby, but never went to church past when i aged out of sunday school/daycare), so I came to college with a fairly blank slate on the issue. There, the handful of atheists I knew were otherwise friendly people and great to be around (as were the theists, admittedly, both of the mono- and poly- varieties) except when the topic of religion appeared. They turned into a weird mirror-image of the stereotypical fundamentalist bible-thumper, using phrases like 'brainwashed sheeple' who 'hallucinated bearded men in the sky' and generally coming across as every bit as hateful as the religions they opposed. I spent a long time wondering what the point of caring was when it seemed being passionate in either direction just turned you mean, it wasn't until (ironically) I joined E that I learned someone could be atheistic without despising all theists and theism utterly.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 09:45:14 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2017, 09:46:40 PM »
Well, I'm a weird one; I dislike most religion on principle for various reasons, but I don't dislike the religious. It's the difference between disliking the organisation, and the people in that organisation as a whole, y'know? "Don't hate the player, hate the game," or something like that. XD

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2017, 10:00:52 PM »
Well, I'm a weird one; I dislike most religion on principle for various reasons, but I don't dislike the religious. It's the difference between disliking the organisation, and the people in that organisation as a whole, y'know? "Don't hate the player, hate the game," or something like that. XD

Yeah, I get you. Still a good example though, since despite lacking the sillier misconceptions about atheists like devil-worship or whatever, I still had a strongly negative initial impression of them until I came here and realized how skewed my initial sample pool had been.

Online HannibalBarcaTopic starter

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2017, 10:11:32 PM »
Most of the atheists I've known personally have been pretty mild.  I'm not a torch-bearing rabble-rouser of an atheist, though.  I'm a historian, and all the horrific acts throughout history in the name of one god or another do rankle me.  A lot of these mindsets do continue due to religion...in fact, most of the reasons why outdated concepts continue is because of some religious connection.  Atheists, on average, are much more accepting than the average religious person on topics like racism, sexism, and homophobia.

There are those that are fire-spitting anti-theists, too.  I tend to watch out for people who get too emotional on issues, or use blanket statements.  We're supposed to be getting away from that kind of mentality, not continuing it.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2017, 10:14:34 PM »
Oh, I getcha. There are militant, extremist and intolerant assholes on both sides. That's a human thing, not a religious thing, haha. Most important thing to realise is that in most cases, the intolerant assholes usually represent the minority. Argue against the person you're talking to, not some nebulous "Evil" version of them. :P

It's the horseshoe theory in full effect; the opposite ends of any spectrum are going to be far more similar than they would like to acknowledge. XD

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2017, 10:22:44 PM »
Speaking of blanket statements, how often do you find people who distinguish between religions versus those who include both the monotheistic/Abrahamic faiths alongside paganist faiths like Wicca or Asatru? The former are obviously dominant, and skew things like averages overwhelmingly in their favor, but several pagans I've known took up their current faiths because they wanted to believe but needed a religion that would accept them as LGBT instead of condemning them.

Oh, I getcha. There are militant, extremist and intolerant assholes on both sides. That's a human thing, not a religious thing, haha. Most important thing to realise is that in most cases, the intolerant assholes usually represent the minority. Argue against the person you're talking to, not some nebulous "Evil" version of them. :P

It's the horseshoe theory in full effect; the opposite ends of any spectrum are going to be far more similar than they would like to acknowledge. XD

Indeed.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2017, 06:55:28 AM »
Atheists, on average, are much more accepting than the average religious person on topics like racism, sexism, and homophobia.

To the extent this may be true (I have no idea) this is probably a US thing and can't really be generalised in the way you are doing.  Across non-Scandinavian Europe the trend is (weakly) the opposite direction.  There's an interesting report done by Demos you might enjoy reading.  It excludes Scandinavia (hence my earlier caveat - I have no data for that) for pretty good reasons and also Italy for disturbingly vague reasons.  The takeaway, and the reason I brought it up, is that 41% of religious people favour equality while only 36% of non-religious do - well outside the margin of error.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2017, 09:11:53 AM »
To the extent this may be true (I have no idea) this is probably a US thing and can't really be generalised in the way you are doing.  Across non-Scandinavian Europe the trend is (weakly) the opposite direction.  There's an interesting report done by Demos you might enjoy reading.  It excludes Scandinavia (hence my earlier caveat - I have no data for that) for pretty good reasons and also Italy for disturbingly vague reasons.  The takeaway, and the reason I brought it up, is that 41% of religious people favour equality while only 36% of non-religious do - well outside the margin of error.

Well, I think it important to note that "Non-Religious" =/= Atheist...and there are plenty of "Religious" people who are technically atheistic (EG, many brands of Buddhism would consider themselves a religion, but don't believe in God). Atheist and Religious aren't antonyms; Atheist and Theist is. So...the study itself is a little flawed in that those kinds of statistics can't REALLY be measured all that accurately.

I can't speak to the study itself, since I haven't had the time to look over it, but I have an issue with their terminology straight away. Plus, I can't find where they distributed the survey, which areas responded the most, or anything like that that might also explain it just as well as religion (EG, which Social Class they were, what their income was, which area they live in, etc etc). It didn't explore any other factor so far as I can see, so drawing causation...well. There are numerous studies that suggest that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be atheist. Are we to conclude that atheists are therefore more intelligent? Of course not. XD

Besides. There are numerous conflicting studies; a study by the USC suggested that, in their area at least, those that identify specifically as atheists are less racist than those that identified as religious. Almost as if there are other, more important factors to consider....
;) :P

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2017, 10:45:15 AM »
Before I came to E I had met mostly Atheists and Anti Theists who went out of their way to mess with me. Mostly the highschool and college variety that try to be edgy by literally tossing jabs to get a rise out of me. "Well in a decade or so its not like there will be anymore believers.' and other little things that don't hurt but are like constantly being poked in the side repeatedly. Or would automatically treat me as if I was against certain things just because of my faith. Which is probably why I get so defensive when I see it now, its become a trained reaction in me.

Not to mention the Youtube variety. But the less said about them the better. Aside from my boyfriend and like two others in my circle of friends I had a pretty negative view of atheists and anti theists as a bunch of elitists who believed they were superior just because they didn't have a god or didn't like the concept of gods and went out of their way to piss off others or rub the fact in others faces.

But after coming to E I have met many better ones and found I just had a run of bad luck running into a lot of assholes. Which in turn made me a worse person. Through my interactions here on E I have learned to keep some of my own more crazy dogma in check. I've learned to be more moderate interacting with both atheists and theists here on E and have a much more relaxed attitudes. People can do as they like so long as no one is hurt and they aren't doing things out of malice. Life is short and so fleeting there isn't time to waste on petty rivalries and such.

As was once said. "Life is shit, life is hard, and pretty soon it will be over. So be happy and try to make others happy."

I am not 100% sure what I wanted to say with this, but I guess just take it as a 'Thank You' all for giving me a look at the better side of your community and for helping me improve as a person myself.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 10:50:51 AM by Lustful Bride »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2017, 11:21:22 AM »
Well, I think it important to note that "Non-Religious" =/= Atheist...and there are plenty of "Religious" people who are technically atheistic (EG, many brands of Buddhism would consider themselves a religion, but don't believe in God). Atheist and Religious aren't antonyms; Atheist and Theist is. So...the study itself is a little flawed in that those kinds of statistics can't REALLY be measured all that accurately.

I can't speak to the study itself, since I haven't had the time to look over it, but I have an issue with their terminology straight away. Plus, I can't find where they distributed the survey, which areas responded the most, or anything like that that might also explain it just as well as religion (EG, which Social Class they were, what their income was, which area they live in, etc etc). It didn't explore any other factor so far as I can see, so drawing causation...well. There are numerous studies that suggest that the more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be atheist. Are we to conclude that atheists are therefore more intelligent? Of course not. XD

Besides. There are numerous conflicting studies; a study by the USC suggested that, in their area at least, those that identify specifically as atheists are less racist than those that identified as religious. Almost as if there are other, more important factors to consider....
;) :P

In fairness, its actually my terminology you have an issue with not the study's, which defined three separate classes quite tightly.  I was simply summarising.  And yes, we seem to agree - making blanket statements of the type "atheists are more/less <adjective> than a-atheists" is likely to be incorrect and certainly can't be easily or unambiguously generalised.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2017, 11:48:00 AM »
I have a slightly different take on the whole knowledge/belief spectrum bit. My brother has relatively recently become an extremely devout "born again" Christian, and he emphatically equates belief and knowledge, claiming that the strength of his belief is in fact akin to knowledge because, to him, the existence of Christ is an obvious and knowable thing.

This has led me to question the lines between atheism and agnosticism... my brother would say that there is no such thing as an agnostic- he would say you either believe or you don't. Of course only such a devout believer would deal in such absolutes, but it still got me thinking. If he turns out to be right, then is his faith actually knowledge?

I still consider myself to be agnostic- I'm almost certain 'something' is out there, I just have no idea what it is because I have seen no evidence of it. To which he would argue that is a lack of belief which makes me an atheist, and reaffirm his view regarding belief and knowledge, taking us into a circular argument that can be extremely exhausting. I have largely given up trying to explain my position, but it still puzzles me how someone can believe such lofty claims as those made in the New Testament without a shred of physical evidence that any of it is true.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #21 on: January 24, 2017, 11:56:33 AM »
I have a slightly different take on the whole knowledge/belief spectrum bit. My brother has relatively recently become an extremely devout "born again" Christian, and he emphatically equates belief and knowledge, claiming that the strength of his belief is in fact akin to knowledge because, to him, the existence of Christ is an obvious and knowable thing.

This has led me to question the lines between atheism and agnosticism... my brother would say that there is no such thing as an agnostic- he would say you either believe or you don't. Of course only such a devout believer would deal in such absolutes, but it still got me thinking. If he turns out to be right, then is his faith actually knowledge?

I still consider myself to be agnostic- I'm almost certain 'something' is out there, I just have no idea what it is because I have seen no evidence of it. To which he would argue that is a lack of belief which makes me an atheist, and reaffirm his view regarding belief and knowledge, taking us into a circular argument that can be extremely exhausting. I have largely given up trying to explain my position, but it still puzzles me how someone can believe such lofty claims as those made in the New Testament without a shred of physical evidence that any of it is true.

Faith is what one accepts without proof.  Knowledge is that which has been proven.  I can have faith that my husband is going to stop at the store for milk in the morning on his way home, but I don't have knowledge that he has until I see the milk in the fridge.  Once I see the milk, then my faith is justified and I have knowledge, but until that moment, I don't have knowledge.

It's a little harder to collapse the probability wave where theology is concerned.

Sorry - I watch quantum physics lectures for entertainment.

Offline Formless

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #22 on: January 24, 2017, 12:21:42 PM »
This is an interesting thread. I think it'll be useful for me as a reference from time to time. ;D

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #23 on: January 24, 2017, 06:22:32 PM »
Quote
To the extent this may be true (I have no idea) this is probably a US thing and can't really be generalised in the way you are doing.  Across non-Scandinavian Europe the trend is (weakly) the opposite direction.  There's an interesting report done by Demos you might enjoy reading.  It excludes Scandinavia (hence my earlier caveat - I have no data for that) for pretty good reasons and also Italy for disturbingly vague reasons.  The takeaway, and the reason I brought it up, is that 41% of religious people favour equality while only 36% of non-religious do - well outside the margin of error.

That is a sad comment on the effect being in the majority has on a population, I think.  Being in a minority tends to give someone more of a chance to develop empathy.  Atheists who are in the majority in a country and do not promote equality are a sad reminder that any majority can come under the influence of poor judgement.


As far as my opinion on faith...I think there are different definitions of it people use, just like feminism.  To me, faith is the acceptance of things without any evidence or justification.  To that extent, I not only think it isn't a virtue, but a detrimental behavior.  I'm an apistevist--I only accept things on evidence.  I have no faith.  I can have trust, which is based on evidence, but I don't accept anything on faith.  If I don't have reasonable evidence to trust something, I don't trust it.  I think the problem is--and I lived this myself--is that for many who are religious, they were taught to believe in it as children, when they were trusting and unable to make an informed decision on their own.  For me, I never had any faith, nor much trust, though I paid it lip service, as it was expected of me, through family, social, and peer pressure.  Once I was old enough not only to make my own decisions, but stand up for myself and refute what I was taught from my youth, I was able to see outside the box and objectively decide for myself what I believed in.

There are a lot of youtube channels devoted to atheism, and they have their fair share of decent people and assholes.  I'm not only an atheist, but a liberal and a feminist as well.  Some people would likely call me a leftist, but there are a lot of definitions of that as well.  I'm most of all an individual, and I don't believe in accepting only labels for other people, either.  Getting to know them is the best way to build bridges.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 08:16:29 PM by HannibalBarca »

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2017, 09:22:02 PM »
Quote
I have a slightly different take on the whole knowledge/belief spectrum bit. My brother has relatively recently become an extremely devout "born again" Christian, and he emphatically equates belief and knowledge, claiming that the strength of his belief is in fact akin to knowledge because, to him, the existence of Christ is an obvious and knowable thing.

This has led me to question the lines between atheism and agnosticism... my brother would say that there is no such thing as an agnostic- he would say you either believe or you don't. Of course only such a devout believer would deal in such absolutes, but it still got me thinking. If he turns out to be right, then is his faith actually knowledge?

I still consider myself to be agnostic- I'm almost certain 'something' is out there, I just have no idea what it is because I have seen no evidence of it. To which he would argue that is a lack of belief which makes me an atheist, and reaffirm his view regarding belief and knowledge, taking us into a circular argument that can be extremely exhausting. I have largely given up trying to explain my position, but it still puzzles me how someone can believe such lofty claims as those made in the New Testament without a shred of physical evidence that any of it is true.

Agnosticism was coined by Huxley--can't remember now which one, but he used it as a term because he didn't want to come out hard on atheism's side.  Agnosticism and atheism deal with different things, though--they aren't on a spectrum, with belief in a god on one end, atheism on the other, and agnosticism in the middle.

The prefix a- means 'without'.  Gnosticism means knowledge.  A-gnosticism means without knowledge.  Theism is belief in a deity.  A-theism means without a belief in a deity.  So, Agnosticism deals with a knowledge claim, while atheism deals with a belief claim.  Knowledge is a subset of belief, so they can be nested, and that means you can be both at the same time.  I'm an agnostic atheist...this means I claim no knowledge of a deity, and with no such knowledge, I have no belief in one, either.

I spend a lot of time watching various atheist channels on youtube.  For those who are not familiar with him, Christopher Hitchens was a journalist, author, and one of the greatest debaters the world has ever known.  He was a strident atheist and anti-theist, and faced off against many believers of various stripes.  One of his greatest refutations was of the Catholic Church, which I will post a segment of his section of the debate here.  He teamed with Stephen Fry at this debate, who was a close personal friend of his.  He makes a solid case for why this particular religion is not a benefit to humanity as a whole.


Offline Tamhansen

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2017, 06:38:11 PM »
The intelligence squared debates. To be fair, Fry performed better on that one, despite Hitchens being the more experienced and knowledgeable debater. I hope that reasoned atheism finds a voice like him again.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #26 on: February 25, 2017, 08:25:05 PM »
They had very different debating styles, and complemented one another quite well.  Honestly, in this debate, I think Fry did do a step better than Hitchens.  For the subject, and the audience, I think he had a more effective style.  Fry is an incredibly effective debater and public speaker, as well as a good actor and all-around awesome human being.  Fortunately, we still have him.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2017, 01:00:40 AM »
That is a sad comment on the effect being in the majority has on a population, I think.  Being in a minority tends to give someone more of a chance to develop empathy.  Atheists who are in the majority in a country and do not promote equality are a sad reminder that any majority can come under the influence of poor judgement.

Hmmmm.

Could you provide some sources here?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 01:18:19 AM by Kythia »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2017, 01:24:39 AM »
Atheists are not technically in the "51%" type of majority in the UK, no, but as of 2015, "Non-religious" is the dominant group in the UK. A survey by the BSA (British Social Attitudes) showed that of those who responded, 49% were of "no religion," 42% were some kind of Christian denomination, and 8% were labelled as "Non-Christian." Now obviously, that's a pretty small sample size, so there's some margin for error there (EG, religiosity in NI is gonna be MUCH higher than in the south of England), but still.

 It's worth noting that a 2007 Pitzer compilation did suggest that roughly 30-40% of the British populace do not hold a belief in God (but at the time, only 8% self identified as Atheists).
Now of course, there's no way of telling for certain how many of that group of "Non-religious" self identify as "Atheist," or how many of them are functionally atheistic (disbelief in God, but they don't use the label for whatever reasons), but it does show that religion is on the decline in the UK. And let's be honest; religion has long ago ceased to have any real impact or importance in most Brits lives. It just doesn't make the news very often any more, at least not in the HUGE ways that it influences policies and politics and political party leaders the way it does in the USA.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 01:26:25 AM by Vergil Tanner »

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #29 on: February 26, 2017, 01:28:03 AM »
Just to clarify as the thread now reads a little weird:

My original post said that Hannibal's claim that atheists were a majority in the UK wasn't supported by any evidence. I edited it as it read bitchier than I intended. Virgil is (presumably at least) responding to that.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #30 on: February 26, 2017, 01:36:55 AM »
That is indeed correct :-)

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #31 on: February 26, 2017, 01:54:35 AM »
Quote
Hmmmm.

Could you provide some sources here?

I'm not sure which part you were referring to.  I did use qualifiers such as 'I think' and 'tends to' so that it was clear that I was expressing an opinion and not stating a fact.  In general, I believe that being a member of a minority makes ones more empathetic to the struggles of others, as minorities with less power often struggle within the greater majority...at least in the United States.  Ethnic, religious, and social minorities are often discriminated against, not only in the U.S., but throughout human history.  Experiencing discrimination is not a guarantee to develop greater empathy, but I think it makes someone more likely to.

Quote
My original post said that Hannibal's claim that atheists were a majority in the UK wasn't supported by any evidence. I edited it as it read bitchier than I intended. Virgil is (presumably at least) responding to that.

I didn't find it bitchier at all :P  Although I wasn't making a claim about atheists in the UK.  I was only stating it was sad that atheists who were a majority in a nation were less likely to believe in equality.  You said it was Italy where this was the case.  I don't know the precise conditions in Italy, or the historical reasons that could cause this.  Perhaps there are other factors in effect there.  After all, atheists are only connected to one another by one factor--a lack of belief in a deity.  These people who are non-believers and don't approve of equality may have other things in common than just atheism.  There are idiots among atheists, like any other group.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #32 on: February 26, 2017, 02:04:02 AM »
That's kinda the point I was making actually Hannibal. You e said a few times in this thread that you don't believe things without evidence. I don't actually think that's a sensible or sustainable approach in the abstract, and generally I feel people saying that or similar are misrepresenting their behaviour, consciously or otherwise. By asking for evidence for a belief I was attempting to pull that out.

I'm not sure what you mean about Italy though? My only mention of it was saying I had no data for it.  My claim, and the stats I presented and you responded to, was about the UK.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2017, 02:18:30 AM »
That's kinda the point I was making actually Hannibal. You e said a few times in this thread that you don't believe things without evidence. I don't actually think that's a sensible or sustainable approach in the abstract, and generally I feel people saying that or similar are misrepresenting their behaviour, consciously or otherwise. By asking for evidence for a belief I was attempting to pull that out.
about the UK.

I think it's probably the only sensible way of looking at things. If you're going to believe things without evidence, how do you ascertain which of two conflicting statements are true? How do you tell what is true and what is false, if you don't rely on evidence to show you which one is more concordant with reality? What exactly do you mean by "Sustainable in the abstract?" What does that actually functionally mean?

And I would also like to ask how people who say that are misrepresenting their behavior? How would one be being dishonest if they ask for evidence for believing somebody? I think it's dangerous thinking to accuse anybody who doesn't believe your claims without evidence as being dishonest, since that automatically makes them people you shouldn't respect or listen to. After all. Who wants to listen to a liar?

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #34 on: February 26, 2017, 02:22:37 AM »
OK.  Hannibal believes that atheists tend more to liberalism than the religious. Hannibal believes that Hannibal requires evidence to believe things. Either Hannibal has evidence for his claim or Hannibal is misrepresenting his views. This seems pretty uncontroversial...

Edit (hit submit not preview) sustainable means " can be sustained" .When I say that I don't think something is sustainable I mean that I don't think people can continue doing it for a prolonged period. Sorry if that was unclear.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 02:25:12 AM by Kythia »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #35 on: February 26, 2017, 03:17:27 AM »
OK.  Hannibal believes that atheists tend more to liberalism than the religious. Hannibal believes that Hannibal requires evidence to believe things. Either Hannibal has evidence for his claim or Hannibal is misrepresenting his views. This seems pretty uncontroversial...

Not necessarily. Hannibal wouldn't be misrepresenting his views, he'd just be a hypocrite. :P

Edit (hit submit not preview) sustainable means " can be sustained" .When I say that I don't think something is sustainable I mean that I don't think people can continue doing it for a prolonged period. Sorry if that was unclear.

Yeah, I got that thanks. -___- I know what sustainable means. :P :P

What I meant was "why do you think it's unsustainable?" What about wanting evidence for your beliefs and opinions is unsustainable?



EDIT: Added smileys, because one of my comments came off as more aggressive than I intended :P
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 03:30:25 AM by Vergil Tanner »

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #36 on: February 26, 2017, 04:57:51 AM »
Not necessarily. Hannibal wouldn't be misrepresenting his views, he'd just be a hypocrite. :P

Yeah, I got that thanks. -___- I know what sustainable means. :P :P

What I meant was "why do you think it's unsustainable?" What about wanting evidence for your beliefs and opinions is unsustainable?



EDIT: Added smileys, because one of my comments came off as more aggressive than I intended :P

No. Hypocrisy is where someone says something and does something else. This is subtly different. Here someone is saying they do something that they don't. I'm not sure hypocrisy is the word. If I told you I went to the gym every Sunday but didn't in fact do that I don't think hypocrite would be the word to describe me. This is largely semantic though.

I think it's unsustainable because I don't think it's possible to check for evidence before each and every single position one espouses. Time becomes a factor even if we think that that's a valuable thing to do. Which, as I say, I don't think it is. I think there are numerous positions one could hold that are simply too unimportant to require evidence. For example, I have a brother. Do you believe me? Whether you do or not, that's a position . And I would submit that even if you have nothing better to do than to track down my real name and determine whether it's true or not it's still simply not worth doing.

I don't think we could possibly base every belief on evidence and even if we could don't think it would be something we should do.  Neither sustainable nor sensible.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 05:08:07 AM by Kythia »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #37 on: February 26, 2017, 05:12:02 AM »
No. Hypocrisy is where someone says something and does something else. This is subtly different. Here someone is saying they do something that they don't. I'm not sure hypocrisy is the word. This is largely semantic though.

Yeah, it would be hypocrisy. He's saying that you should rely on evidence for what you believe, and yet he himself isn't relying on evidence. Hypocrisy is when you say something and do the opposite. He's saying you should rely on evidence, and in this hypothetical, doing exactly what he's saying you shouldn't do...therefore, hypocrite. :P
And no, that gym example would just be you lying. Hypocrisy would be you saying to somebody that they SHOULD go to the gym because it's healthy, or criticising somebody for not going to the gym, when you yourself don't go. Simply saying that you do it and not is just lying.

Hypocrisy: behaviour that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.

Therefore, in your example, you would be a liar rather than a hypocrite, and Hannibal would be a hypocrite as well as a liar.

But yes, this is largely semantic. :P


I think it's unsustainable because I don't think it's possible to check for evidence before each and every single position one espouses. Time becomes a factor even if we think that that's a valuable thing to do. Which, as I say, I don't think it is. I think there are numerous positions one could hold that are simply too unimportant to require evidence. For example, I have a brother. Do you believe me? Whether you do or not, that's a position . And I would submit that even if you have nothing better to do than to track down my real name and determine whether it's true or not it's still simply not worth doing.

I don't think we could possibly base every belief on evidence and even if we could don't think it would be something we should do.  Neither sustainable nor sensible.

I disagree. I think the fundamental problem with your argument is that you're treating it as if every position requires the same amount of evidence, when that isn't the case. If you say that you have a brother, then that is an extremely mundane claim; people have brothers, brothers are very common occurrences in humankind, and as far as I know you have no possible reason to lie about having a brother in this situation and I am aware of no conflicting evidence. Therefore, I am prepared to accept this statement as probably true because it is an extremely mundane claim. If, however, you were to say that you have thirty brothers, well...it's technically possible, but that is a far more extraordinary claim, so would require more evidence than the first instance. So I might ask to see a picture of you guys all together or something before I accepted it as true.
But the other side of things is that whether or not I believe you have a brother (or thirty for that matter) is unlikely to affect my life in any way, shape or form. But if you were to attempt to convince me that you needed donations because one of your brothers was in an accident and you need to raise money for healthcare, then I need to know that you're not just lying through your teeth because suddenly your claim DOES affect me. So no, there isn't a reasonable way to always get conclusive evidence before you accept every little claim, but nor is there reason to; Claims and evidence are on a spectrum, not a dichotomy, with the more mundane a claim requiring less evidence and the more extraordinary claims requiring more evidence.

But further, I would argue that to have a position, you had to have been convinced of it, and why would you be convinced of a position before you were shown evidence of it? Now, your evidence doesn't necessarily have to be good evidence, but evidently you were convinced by something, no? So if you are told something by somebody, why should you change your mind if they don't have any evidence to back up what they are saying? Why would you accept their new statements as fact without being shown that they are indeed facts? If simply being told was enough to change your mind, you would never hold any position for any longer than a single conversation about it because you would constantly be changing your mind back and forth because you were deciding sans evidence.

I think your assertion that we can't base every belief off evidence is factually incorrect simply because we DO. Every position you hold, you were convinced of. That requires reason and evidence, regardless of whether that evidence is good or bad, weak or strong. And when considering whether to change our minds, how else are we going to decide whether we're right or wrong other than comparing our opinions to the evidence set in front of us? The more closely our internal maps of reality match reality itself, the better off we are, the safer we are and the less likely to endanger ourselves we are.

I would posit that NOT basing our beliefs on evidence is not sustainable and even actively dangerous in many cases. Why on Earth would you reject evidence out of hand as a tool for reasoning? Surely you want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible, and how else would you determine which side of an issue is right or wrong other than reason and evidence?
« Last Edit: February 26, 2017, 05:16:27 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #38 on: February 26, 2017, 05:23:12 AM »
To the best of my memory, Hannibal didn't claim that one should base beliefs on evidence, simply that he did. If I've misremembered then you're right, but if I haven't then the analogy holds.

As to your second, before I respond could you just clarify for me. There seems to be a problem between tour last two paragraphs and it's leaving me a little confused as to tour argument. In the penultimate you claim that all our beliefs are based on evidence, in the last you talk about beliefs that aren't and I'm struggling to reconcile the two, given that reading.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #39 on: February 26, 2017, 05:38:37 AM »
To the best of my memory, Hannibal didn't claim that one should base beliefs on evidence, simply that he did. If I've misremembered then you're right, but if I haven't then the analogy holds.

Oh no, I believe that Hannibal practices what he preaches. I'm just assuming he doesn't for the sake of the hypothetical. This is in response to your comment:

Quote
OK.  Hannibal believes that atheists tend more to liberalism than the religious. Hannibal believes that Hannibal requires evidence to believe things. Either Hannibal has evidence for his claim or Hannibal is misrepresenting his views. This seems pretty uncontroversial...

If he does not have evidence for his claims, and yet demands that other people do, then he would be a hypocrite.


As to your second, before I respond could you just clarify for me. There seems to be a problem between tour last two paragraphs and it's leaving me a little confused as to tour argument. In the penultimate you claim that all our beliefs are based on evidence, in the last you talk about beliefs that aren't and I'm struggling to reconcile the two, given that reading.

Ah, ok, so:

I think that all of our beliefs are based on some degree on reason and evidence, since you need to have been convinced of a position to hold it in the first place.
However, not asking for extra evidence for the more outlandish and extraordinary claims is dangerous and ill-advised. Like...ok. So, my evidence for you having a brother is linked to my reason; I know brothers exist, I know brothers are common and I know that I have no reason to doubt that you have a brother. That is enough evidence for me to accept for the time being that you are being honest. If somebody came to me and said that you were lying, if I didn't consciously base my decisions on compelling evidence, I would simply accept this new persons word as evidence at face value.

I guess my distinction is between the critical reaction to each piece of evidence, to figure out which pieces are more reliable than others, and some things aren't evidence at all; in a hypothetical world where we don't require evidence to back up claims, we accept everything at face value without further critical analysis of whether it should be accepted or not. Therefore, we would accept everything as evidence at face value, regardless of whether it was, in fact, evidence or just a statement without anything supporting it.

Complicated, i know, and it verges on being a bit of a word salad, so I'll boil it down to this:

1) When faced with a statement or a claim, we either accept or reject it. We accept it if it seems reasonable and supported by the information we have at hand, and we reject it if it fails to meet that criteria. Therefore, all relevant information could be considered to be evidence (of varying quality) in that situation.

2) If we did not rely on evidence to make our decisions, we would have no mechanism to determine whether what we were being presented with was true, no way to critique the evidence being placed in front of us, and therefore we would either accept everything we were told without question or reject it out of hand, obstinately refusing to look at whatever evidence was presented. OR, we would simply change our minds on a whim. We may as well flip a coin to see whether we change our mind or not. All three scenarios are dangerous and unhealthy.

3) Therefore, reason and evidence is important for us to determine what is and isn't true, since evidence is simply the information we have available to us that informs us of the way reality actually works. If you reject the need for evidence, you have no real way to determine what is true and what is not.

I hope that makes my position clearer. :-)

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #40 on: February 26, 2017, 05:51:29 AM »
It does thank you, yes. And my response would be a little longer than I really want to do on my phone. Plus, we may have hijacked this thread a little. All I'll quickly say is that you seem to be arguing for Bayesian reasoning based on probabilities, and I agree that that is a far far stronger position in terms of sensibleness and sustainability than Hannibal's. I actually have some issues with it as a sole criteria for determining truth but they're pretty arcane and would be the final straw in taking this conversation totally off topic.  So I won't bother, I'll just say that we're using two subtly different meanings for the word "evidence" here and that seems to be the root of the disagreement. I maintain mine is right but again going through that we would take forever for very little benefit. If I use yours, which is essentially "a reason for believing something" then I totally agree with you.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #41 on: February 26, 2017, 05:58:28 AM »
Well, I kind of start with Bayesian as a "If it's mundane enough to be a common occurrence, then eh," but as claims get more and more outlandish or extraordinary, then you start needing evidence to back it up, otherwise people can make you believe anything they want since your criteria for believing them is just not rigorous enough. And I don't think that Hannibal would demand a picture of your brother to believe that you had one. From what I've read, I do think that Hannibal agrees with me in terms of "Mundane claims require mundane evidence, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

But I do find myself wondering, Kythia, what is YOUR methodology for deciding whether or not to believe a claim? How do YOU decide whether to accept or reject a statement or claim?

I mean...this IS the "Ask an atheist" thread...you're asking me (an atheist)...so it's rather on topic, no? :P

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #42 on: February 26, 2017, 06:02:59 AM »
It's a reasonable question but again is a longer response than I want to do on my phone. I'll address that plus a few other issues when I get home. Probably, I dunno, five or six hours.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #43 on: February 26, 2017, 06:05:51 AM »
Ok, fair enough! :-)

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #44 on: February 26, 2017, 12:36:40 PM »
I would suppose that me claiming atheists are more liberal would need some qualifiers.  Most Chinese are likely atheist, and their nation seems less liberal in many ways.  I'd have to say, then, that most of the atheists I have encountered follow more liberal beliefs.  Living in the United States, I'd have to say my claims pertain to atheists here.  Polls have shown that those with no religious beliefs in the U.S., including atheists, are more accepting of ethnic variety, LGBTQ rights, and even freedom of (and from) religion.

Vergil said things I wholeheartedly agree with as well.  Carl Sagan made the statement that 'extraordinary beliefs require extraordinary evidence'.  Mundane things require mundane evidence.  We all make judgements everyday in life.  I also have to explain that I don't use faith--faith and belief are not the same thing.  Everyone believes things.  For me, my beliefs are based on reasonable expectations, backed by evidence.  Faith is belief in something with no evidence.  Basing my life on science, I have to explain that science does not make proclamations of truth, only explanations with varying degrees of certainty, with nothing being 100% certain.  When I don't have enough evidence to believe something, my answer to a question about it will be 'I don't know.'

Before I was an atheist, I had different faiths, all of varying degrees.  I began a Catholic, being raised as such.  I converted to Protestantism, trying a handful of faiths in that category.  I tried Buddhism.  I tried Deism.  I tried my own concoction of a religion, wherein I thought all religious beliefs in a god were basically true, and all worshiped the same being under different names and incarnations.  However, the growing preponderance of evidence against these religions for me made me ask myself the question: could they all be wrong?  Further research, on both the books these religions were based on, and from books with reasoned arguments against religion, made me reject a belief in a god or gods completely.  As of today, no one has presented any evidence I have read or seen that convinces me belief in a deity is reasonable.  There may be a god or gods, but until I have some reasonable evidence of such, I won't be accepting anyone's claims that there are.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #45 on: February 26, 2017, 04:03:48 PM »
Mmmmkay, so this may be a little meandering.  My apologies in advance if you find it such.

On my epistemology

First, I believe that a lot of work has already been done.  In fact, I think most people think that but there's a growing and faintly ridiculous trend to act as though that's not the case.  "Question everything".  "Demand evidence for everything".  Even the constant charges of claim x being an appeal to authority.  I think it's vaguely worrying that people give the impression they think one should independently verify well-established facts.  If I read that g = 9.81 then I'm perfectly happy plugging that in to a formula, if I read that Australia exists I'm pretty happy to assume it does without feeling any need to verify.  Dialogue between, specifically, the rationalist/skeptic movement and vaccine denier movement is becoming hilarious as both sides polarise each other.  So the first go to for me in evaluating what is true is an explicit "has this question already been answered". 

This leads directly on to the second layer, that of induction and extrapolation.  If I know that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, I know that Socrates is mortal, etc etc etc.  Here is the start, incidentally, of my objection to your broad usage of "evidence".

Quite honestly, I suspect most people use those same two first steps, though as I've said there seems to be a trend to pretend one doesn't.  I do think there are benefits to being explicit about it though.

I place a lot of emphasis on experiential observations.  It's totally outside the scope of this conversation but I see no particular reason to assume my perceived reality is the same as yours and its entirely possible to have two mutually opposing views that are both objectively correct.  I think a Christmas Lunch isn't complete without Brussels Sprouts, you think they're absolutely foul and won't let them touch your plate. Yanno, hypothetically.  That's not even any guarantee that Brussles Sprouts taste the same to the both of us, we can't even necessarily agree on basic sensory input so I feel extrapolating too far out in to objective truths in a shared reality requires a much more solid grounding than I've ever seen it given.  The majority of arguments I've heard either support my position or try fallaciously to extrapolate outwards from shared experiences.  I don;t go quite as far as an Eastern Maya or Western Solipsism, I believe there is an objective reality we both perceive - I just don't see anything to suggest that we both perceive it the same.  So yes, I place a lot of emphasis on my own experience and perceptions.

Finally, I evaluate beliefs on whether or not they are helpful.  There's decades of research showing that there's only limited correlation between a belief being factually correct and it being beneficial to hold (and again, a lot of people seem to tie themselves in rhetorical knots trying to deny that).  Some of those are likely to be shared with humanity as whole, some with only a certain subset, some may well be unique to myself but, as above, I see no particular issue with that.  If it makes me happier or otherwise is beneficial to me to believe the box contains a diamond then I want to believe the box contains a diamond, and give a relatively limited amount of fucks whether it does or not.

So in brief, I'll develop my opinions, beliefs and truths based on work that has gone before me filtered through my own experiences and perceptions with the grading criteria being whether it's a useful thing to do.

On aphorisms


I wasn't really going to bring this up but both you and Hannibal have touched on it and I wanted to address it.  Every school of thought has its creeds and litanies, but I feel that within the Internet athesit community many of these have been not only thought terminating cliches but are actually antithetical to the expressed goals of that movement.  The one you have both mentioned is Sagan's quote about extraordinary claims, and it simply doesn't hold up to even a second's scrutiny.  For a group that prides itself on clear though, the fact that it is still used is mindblowing.  What, precisely, is a mundane claim?  What is an extraordinary one?  My daadi would hold "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his final prophet and messenger" as the very epitome of a mundane and broadly self-evident claim.  You, presumably, wouldn't.  Right off the bat when looked at on a srface level the words "mundane" and "extraordinary" are insufficiently defined.  Taking that a step further, the most common way seems to be to invoke explanatory power, with greatest explanatory power being favoured as "mundane".  But that differs so incredibly from our everyday experience that it renders the aphorism meaningless.  The very reason Paley's watchmaker has survived as long as it has is that it gels so readily with what we think.  "Where did this come from?"  "Some guy made it" is pretty much the very definition of a mundane claim. 

In essence, that claim boils down to nothing more than "you don't need to try too hard to convince me of claims that sorta sound reasonable but anything I don't like the smell of is going to take a lot more effort".  Which...well, yes.  That's how people work, sure.  But is that really worth quoting? 

But that really does pale in to insignificance compared to another one that is thrown around.  I'm too lazy to google the original author or the precise wording, but another one of these nonsenses that is thrown around is (paraphrased) "Good people will always do good thing, bad people bad ones, but to make a good person do bad things takes religion".  And that's just stupid beyond any rational comprehension.  For a start, how the hell are you defining good or bad people other than the things they do.  If a person is doing bad things, what on earth makes you think they're a good person?  Absent some sort of sci-fi device that will scan a person's brain and determine their level of morality there is absolutely no sensible way of determining a person's moral worth other than their actions. This hypothetical person who is good but does bad things because of religion - what on earth makes you think they're a good person?  It's not the actions they take, obviously.

OK.  Maybe they did good things before becoming religious, that's the argument some people make.  But even that collapses a good ten miles before the first hurdle comes in to sight.  There's a famous experiment by a guy called Milgrim where participants gave (what they believed to be) ever increasing shocks to (what they beleived to be) another volunteer purely because a guy in a lab coat told them to.  There's the Stanford Prison experiment, there's a famous classroom example by a teacher called Joan Elliott where she managed to turn the blue eyed and brown eyed members of her class against each other.  Another even more dramatic one where the teacher basically recreated the early days of the nazi reich.  The abu ghraib abuses.  Just...so many.  Is the claim being made that all of those participants were religious?  Or that they were bad people?  Or maybe that electrocuting someone to death isn't a bad thing?

How whoever came up with that statement wasn't laughed out of the room as soon as he said it is beyond me.

The point, such as it exists, is that for a community that largely self-identifies as taking a reasoned viewpoint to things those aphorisms are an invidious cancer in the middle.  I have my doubts about whether the rationalist project is possible but, if it is, one of the early steps must surely be to actually think sensibly and not take refuge in these kind of thought terminating cliches.

/rant

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #46 on: February 26, 2017, 05:08:23 PM »
I would suppose that me claiming atheists are more liberal would need some qualifiers.  Most Chinese are likely atheist, and their nation seems less liberal in many ways.  I'd have to say, then, that most of the atheists I have encountered follow more liberal beliefs.  Living in the United States, I'd have to say my claims pertain to atheists here.  Polls have shown that those with no religious beliefs in the U.S., including atheists, are more accepting of ethnic variety, LGBTQ rights, and even freedom of (and from) religion.

Makes me sad to see that, I guess my own people forget to love their neighbors. It sucks when some of the hate against us is in some way justified.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #47 on: February 26, 2017, 06:12:18 PM »
First, I believe that a lot of work has already been done.  In fact, I think most people think that but there's a growing and faintly ridiculous trend to act as though that's not the case.  "Question everything".  "Demand evidence for everything".  Even the constant charges of claim x being an appeal to authority.  I think it's vaguely worrying that people give the impression they think one should independently verify well-established facts.

Well, whilst I agree with this in principle, everything has its limit; EG, it was a "well established fact" according to the Intellectual Elite that there was just open ocean between Europe and Asia to the West until somebody went ahead and sailed that way and found that no, there was actually an entirely different continent that they'd somehow missed over that way (Since nobody listens to Vikings, those uncouth barbarians!). So to a certain degree, there are some things that you need to verify because science is a self correcting process, and sometimes our assumptions turn out to be wrong. But on the macro level, yes, I generally agree with this.


So the first go to for me in evaluating what is true is an explicit "has this question already been answered".

Of course, for the more nuanced questions, you'll have to look at conflicting viewpoints and decide which one is more supported by the evidence. EG, the theory of Gravity; nobody is actually certain what causes two objects with mass to attract, but there are lots of competing hypotheses. We know THAT objects with mass attract, we're just not 100% on WHY.


If I know that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, I know that Socrates is mortal, etc etc etc.  Here is the start, incidentally, of my objection to your broad usage of "evidence".

Again, I agree with this step, but you do need to be careful. It is entirely possible for logic and induction to be internally consistent and yet be completely wrong. :P


I place a lot of emphasis on experiential observations.  It's totally outside the scope of this conversation but I see no particular reason to assume my perceived reality is the same as yours and its entirely possible to have two mutually opposing views that are both objectively correct.

A few points on this, though; how do you know that your experience of reality is reliable? How do you know without testing that your observations are correct? I mean, it's entirely possible for the brain to either fool itself into thinking something that isn't true (look up the phenomenon of "False Memories," and one only has to look at the hallucinations involved when the brain is deprived of water or oxygen for long periods of time). So how do you determine what is real and what is not? Because yes, it is possible to have two different viewpoints that are both correct, but not OBJECTIVELY correct, since the very definition of "Objective" means outside of the bias and interpretation of the individual. EG, it IS an objective fact that the Earth does, in fact, orbit the sun...but it ISN'T an objective fact that Brussel Sprouts taste bad. How do you go about determining which facts are objective and which ones are subjective?


Finally, I evaluate beliefs on whether or not they are helpful.

How do you determined whether the belief is helpful or not, outside evidence that indicates either way?


There's decades of research showing that there's only limited correlation between a belief being factually correct and it being beneficial to hold (and again, a lot of people seem to tie themselves in rhetorical knots trying to deny that).

You'll need to cite me some sources there, Kythia, since "Helpful" isn't an objective term; what one person views as helpful isn't what somebody else might identify as helpful. I, personally, think that the closer to reality the belief is the more helpful it is, because the closer your internal map of reality matches reality itself, the better off you'll be because your actions and beliefs will be influenced by the way the world actually is rather than the way you WANT it to be.


Some of those are likely to be shared with humanity as whole, some with only a certain subset, some may well be unique to myself but, as above, I see no particular issue with that.  If it makes me happier or otherwise is beneficial to me to believe the box contains a diamond then I want to believe the box contains a diamond, and give a relatively limited amount of fucks whether it does or not.

That's all well and good, but how do you determine whether it is more helpful to hold this fanciful belief than to hold a belief closer to reality? If somebody were to sell you that box and it was actually made of wood...but they made you pay the price for Diamond, you would be objectively worse off because you'd spent way too much money on an otherwise worthless box.


What, precisely, is a mundane claim?  What is an extraordinary one?

To a certain extent, that depends on the person the claim is being made to, and the person making the claim should respect that if they want that person to be convinced of their claim. If you are making a claim, it is up to you to prove it to the other persons satisfaction. Generally speaking, though, extraordinary claims are ones that are outside the bounds of what has already been observed and proven and demonstrated. EG, me personally. For me, a brother is a mundane claim because I know that brothers exist; I have one myself. However, God - an invisible man in the sky who for some reason gives a shit who I stick my dick in - has not yet been demonstrated to my satisfaction, one has not yet been absolutely proven...so for me, is an extraordinary claim. And if you were to hypothetically wish to demonstrate his existence to me, you would have to accept my standards of evidence if you wished to convince me.


The very reason Paley's watchmaker has survived as long as it has is that it gels so readily with what we think.  "Where did this come from?"  "Some guy made it" is pretty much the very definition of a mundane claim.

Eeeeeeh, not really. I could go into the problems of the Watchmaker here, but that would be massive derailment and I don't have time (class in five minutes! Ulp!)


The "good people do good things" thing is too far off topic for me, and I don't really agree; people do bad and good shit. It's just the way the world works. It's a people thing, not a religion specific thing.
Though there is a quote that I like; "people who make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities," and I think that is pretty well supported by human history.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2017, 12:05:13 AM »
To a certain extent, that depends on the person the claim is being made to, and the person making the claim should respect that if they want that person to be convinced of their claim. If you are making a claim, it is up to you to prove it to the other persons satisfaction. Generally speaking, though, extraordinary claims are ones that are outside the bounds of what has already been observed and proven and demonstrated. EG, me personally. For me, a brother is a mundane claim because I know that brothers exist; I have one myself. However, God - an invisible man in the sky who for some reason gives a shit who I stick my dick in - has not yet been demonstrated to my satisfaction, one has not yet been absolutely proven...so for me, is an extraordinary claim. And if you were to hypothetically wish to demonstrate his existence to me, you would have to accept my standards of evidence if you wished to convince me.

Other stuff maybe to follow, not sure, but just quickly to address this - yes.  That's precisely the point I made.  The quote is entirely based around the listener and has no objective merit.  It's entirely up to the person what they see as mundane or extraordinary so there's no predictive power or anything like that given.  "Things I already agree with require mundane evidence.  Things I don't require more".  Cheers for that, Sagan, that's pretty insightful.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2017, 12:07:45 AM »
Other stuff maybe to follow, not sure, but just quickly to address this - yes.  That's precisely the point I made.  The quote is entirely based around the listener and has no objective merit.  It's entirely up to the person what they see as mundane or extraordinary so there's no predictive power or anything like that given.  "Things I already agree with require mundane evidence.  Things I don't require more".  Cheers for that, Sagan, that's pretty insightful.

I think that's a bit too harsh. He is right; the more outlandish and fantastical the claim, the harder the evidence needs to be. EG, "I have a giant invisible dragon in my garden." Gonna need some evidence for that, no? :P
In any case, to be fair, that wasn't Sagan's focus of the paragraph. It's just a soundbite people latched onto, as they so often do :P

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2017, 12:11:47 AM »
I think that's a bit too harsh. He is right; the more outlandish and fantastical the claim, the harder the evidence needs to be. EG, "I have a giant invisible dragon in my garden." Gonna need some evidence for that, no? :P
In any case, to be fair, that wasn't Sagan's focus of the paragraph. It's just a soundbite people latched onto, as they so often do :P

Not if I already believe in invisible dragons, no.  I have two or three in my garden and one living on the balcony, seems pretty reasonable that you've got one in your garden to me.  Utterly dependent on my own pre-existing beliefs as to what is extraordinary and what is mundane.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #51 on: February 27, 2017, 12:22:49 AM »
Haha, touche. I do agree, though (obviously, since I said it!), that mundane and extraordinary depends on those conversing at the time.

I still think you're being harsh; it isn't like he was being condescending or harsh. He is right, and it was just a minor turn of phrase that went memified; it doesn't - as you say - boil down to "things I agree with require less evidence," it just means that "the more fantastical the claim that is made, the stronger the evidence needs to be," which is true. I don't think you'd argue with that point, would you?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #52 on: February 27, 2017, 12:28:55 AM »
No of course I wouldn't argue.  The claim's so trivial it's essentially impossible to argue against with a straight face.  I don't object to the truthfulness of the phrase, I object to how such a worthless observation has become treated as if its great words of wisdom and some sort of great insight in to the world.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #53 on: February 27, 2017, 12:32:38 AM »
Eh, it's just a quick, clever-sounding turn of phrase. It isn't held up as some great font of wisdom, it's just used because it's a quick and snappy way of saying it. It's a soundbite, and I don't know anybody who treats it as anything more, personally speaking. :P

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #54 on: March 01, 2017, 07:26:23 PM »
If common sense were truly common, we wouldn't need things like that, either.

Has anyone brought this one up yet? "Would the same evidence that convinced you be reasonable enough to convince someone else?" Obviously this is why apologetics is so bad at converting others under normal circumstances but there seems to be very little consideration given to this concept. Too often the mentality is 'It's true because it's true' and people take for granted how abnormal the process for indoctrination is in instilling beliefs, and why that doesn't work on a skeptic.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and ask a legitimate question. I had actually joined an atheist forum recently and can't bring myself to go back there anymore. Every theist I argued with just ignored perfectly solid facts and every iron-clad refutation of their biblical claims that was made. How do you deal with that kind of thing? When it seems like an honest discussion is utterly impossible?

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #55 on: March 01, 2017, 08:41:55 PM »
Anyway, I'll go ahead and ask a legitimate question. I had actually joined an atheist forum recently and can't bring myself to go back there anymore. Every theist I argued with just ignored perfectly solid facts and every iron-clad refutation of their biblical claims that was made. How do you deal with that kind of thing? When it seems like an honest discussion is utterly impossible?

Yes, it is unfortunate that one of the obstacles you will encounter in debates, especially in online format, is what is called the "Backfire Effect": https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/

I do not believe there is any real way around it except through all surpassing patience. But even if you don't convince your opponent, do know that there are probably other people who are watching, and are more open minded. Mostly when I do debate I think less about convincing my immediate opponent, and focus more on who will be reading it...

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #56 on: March 01, 2017, 09:45:22 PM »
Yes, it is unfortunate that one of the obstacles you will encounter in debates, especially in online format, is what is called the "Backfire Effect": https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/


Probably augmented by them being the 'token theists' on an atheist forum, as well. Presumably any arguments you used, they've already seen before and weren't swayed then (otherwise they would, obviously, no longer be theists, or at least would no longer be members). So your facts and refutations, however ironclad, were nothing they hadn't already heard and dismissed as insufficient.

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #57 on: March 01, 2017, 11:07:12 PM »
Probably augmented by them being the 'token theists' on an atheist forum, as well. Presumably any arguments you used, they've already seen before and weren't swayed then (otherwise they would, obviously, no longer be theists, or at least would no longer be members). So your facts and refutations, however ironclad, were nothing they hadn't already heard and dismissed as insufficient.

Yes, that is indeed true too as well. Its just one of those things where, on some level, you can't really go into to an online debate with the expectation that you'll change anyone's mind. At the same time, it is a public forum, so you will more than likely sway someone who is a bit more open minded (provided, of course, that you are on the right side  ;) ).

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #58 on: March 02, 2017, 12:37:22 AM »
Also, people as a whole are incredibly bad at determining the strength of their own arguments.  Its entirely possible - probable even - that you only think your arguments were iron clad and actually there were flaws there.  This isn't directed at you specifically, its a general point.

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #59 on: March 02, 2017, 12:11:53 PM »
This Debunking Handbook provides some guidelines for how to counter the Backfire Effect: https://www.skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf

The "Worldview Backfire Effect" in particular was what I had in mind in my previous postings on this thread...

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #60 on: March 02, 2017, 12:37:50 PM »
Yeah, that's a good point Trevino.  People (and I unreservedly include myself in this) are often terrible at convincing.  It's entirely possible, Mathim, that that was your problem.  Maybe you just need more practice/skill at actually putting arguments across?

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #61 on: March 10, 2017, 06:36:07 PM »
I am a so called Jesuan (not to be confused with a Jesuit), which is someone who believes in Jesus as a mortal entity and as a teacher and that Jesus is not divine and that there is no god or that god is very unlikely to exist. The core principle of Jesuanism is to be altruistic and that faith and science aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Adherents to Jesuanism are most commonly politically left libertarian. So far, it has been a decent and increasingly successful middleway between theistic Christianity and atheism. Most of my more religious family members dont really get it and think it is just one of the weirder Christian denominations.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #62 on: March 10, 2017, 06:56:40 PM »
So far, it has been a decent and increasingly successful middleway between theistic Christianity and atheism. Most of my more religious family members dont really get it and think it is just one of the weirder Christian denominations.

I can tell you that it really confuses the door-to-door people when you say that 'Jesus was a really good rabbi.'

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #63 on: March 10, 2017, 07:05:41 PM »
I can tell you that it really confuses the door-to-door people when you say that 'Jesus was a really good rabbi.'

hahaa that gives me a case of the giggles.  :D  I like that.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #64 on: March 10, 2017, 07:06:14 PM »
It is more a "Jesus was a socialist/anarchist." statement, which would piss off the social and fiscal conservatives. But if they actually read the bible, Jesus was actually closer to a socialist than to a capitalist who has no sympathy for the unfortunate.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #65 on: March 10, 2017, 08:03:03 PM »
It is more a "Jesus was a socialist/anarchist." statement, which would piss off the social and fiscal conservatives. But if they actually read the bible, Jesus was actually closer to a socialist than to a capitalist who has no sympathy for the unfortunate.

True enough - but many translations of the Bible also take the time to point out that 'rabbi' means 'teacher' (usually in context of someone addressing Jesus as 'Rabbi').  So - it's a true enough statement, whatever your leanings are.

I've found - through many years of experimentation - that both outright agreeing with them and outright rejecting them tends to make them talk longer.  Deviate from one of those scripts and they don't know what to say.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #66 on: March 10, 2017, 09:42:34 PM »
I am a so called Jesuan (not to be confused with a Jesuit), which is someone who believes in Jesus as a mortal entity and as a teacher and that Jesus is not divine and that there is no god or that god is very unlikely to exist. The core principle of Jesuanism is to be altruistic and that faith and science aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Adherents to Jesuanism are most commonly politically left libertarian. So far, it has been a decent and increasingly successful middleway between theistic Christianity and atheism. Most of my more religious family members dont really get it and think it is just one of the weirder Christian denominations.

That sounds great on paper but it really just raises the question, why is that component of it necessary or even desirable?

Also, can you define faith, and exactly how it is not utterly incompatible with science? I have a hard time ever finding anyone who can distinguish it from 'belief in something without evidence' or 'pretending to know something you don't know' or other such completely counter-intuitive terms.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 09:48:05 PM by Mathim »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #67 on: March 11, 2017, 02:30:02 PM »
On the necessity, it depends on perspective. Some people can't do without faith and community. On faith, faith is not necessarily religious, it can also be define as a reliance on something. Therefore you can have faith in science. In that context, faith and science do not contradict each other because the faith is in science or a naturalistic world and not in the supernatural or make believe.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #68 on: March 11, 2017, 07:15:40 PM »
Faith can mean trust in someone or something, and faith can also mean duty, allegiance, or obligation.  When it comes to most religions, the operative definition of faith tends to be 'firm belief in something for which there is no proof.'  This is the difference between religion and science. 

Science is methodological naturalism, whereby a rational system--the scientific method--is used to find evidence for hypotheses, refine those hypotheses, and continue the method until more and more accurate models are devised and discovered for explanations of the universe around us. 

Religion tends to be systems of belief based on ancient texts or teachings of past humans, where there is no evidence for those beliefs.  In many religions, faith--a belief with no evidence--is considered of high moral value.  In science, acceptance of something with no evidence is the antithesis of the scientific method. 

In this way, much of religion is at direct odds with science.  The simple rejection of verified scientific theories over the centuries--including the Heliocentric Model, the four largest moons of Jupiter, Germ Theory, plate tectonics, the age of the Earth and universe, the Big Bang, Evolution--by different religions, their leaders, and many of their followers...is proof that religion can and does conflict with science.  It isn't always true, but history is full of examples when it has been.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #69 on: March 11, 2017, 09:12:01 PM »
However Jesuanism is not a religion. It doesn't fulfill the requirement to be a religion. Jesuans aka christian atheists tend to be found in many Christian denominations but also without any affiliation. I am not sure how rare it is in the US, but here in Germany we number in the thousands with some being philosophers, scientists and professors and others being members of the national protestant church trying to change it from the inside out to appeal to younger generations by trying to remove the supernatural teachings of the denomination out of necessity (and have lost their jobs within the church over it). In principle, it views Jesus as human and no more. No god, no genesis, no prayer, no trying to assume a miracle when there is a logical explanation. A lot of people have difficulties comprehending to it as it doesn't fit into what most people have known to be a belief system.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #70 on: March 12, 2017, 11:09:31 AM »
However Jesuanism is not a religion. It doesn't fulfill the requirement to be a religion. Jesuans aka christian atheists tend to be found in many Christian denominations but also without any affiliation. I am not sure how rare it is in the US, but here in Germany we number in the thousands with some being philosophers, scientists and professors and others being members of the national protestant church trying to change it from the inside out to appeal to younger generations by trying to remove the supernatural teachings of the denomination out of necessity (and have lost their jobs within the church over it). In principle, it views Jesus as human and no more. No god, no genesis, no prayer, no trying to assume a miracle when there is a logical explanation. A lot of people have difficulties comprehending to it as it doesn't fit into what most people have known to be a belief system.

About your previous reply, that sounds like an incredibly disingenuous use of faith as an equivalency to an actual rationally justified belief. Like, literally insulting in the highest degree that you would say that a person has faith in science. I reject the definition provided. You wouldn't say you had faith in science AFTER it had proved itself to be completely reliable, only before you could verify this. It saddens me that this act of dishonesty, whether in ignorance or genuine disregard for truth, is what is keeping this conflict from ever being resolved. Pretending there's not a problem when there very obviously is not only does not help, but it makes the side doing that look like the bad guy.

Whether or not whatever one believes is considered a religion, if it is irrational, that is still a big problem. What is the virtue behind believing someone with a certain name existed in and of itself? Unless this person never did a bad or incorrect thing in their life, basing one's life around that person's teachings is utterly foolhardy. Even then, having no ability to evolve one's beliefs outside of that narrow circle is asinine; this leaves that position a lose-lose proposition. And if you do decide to deviate when you discover better ideas, what the ever-loving hell is the point of basing one's life around a figure in the first place? Or even giving this figure credit for ideas that are not their original creation, or that the ideas are not so simple to come up with on one's own?

This all just leaves me scratching my head and quietly sobbing to myself.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #71 on: March 12, 2017, 11:49:48 AM »
It isn't dishonesty as modern science has proven itself reliable for the past 100 years. We are talking about the actual field of science and not any pseudoscientific offshoot like "Christian science" (saying that made me gag a little bit). And tell me how it is irrational to believe in helping others based on a view you have of a historical figure? To me it sounds like you pretty much everything that isn't pure Dawkins foundation style atheism as irrational, turning this into a debate what religions have had for hundreds of years: "Whether slight variations of a worldview should be condemned and acted against."

You are throwing tons of accusations at me based on what you believe and your miscomprehension of what I have written, Mathim.

Of course Jesus wasn't perfect, he was human. And like with all human beings, you should dabble on over past mistakes but learn from them. Also I said some people need community and something to believe in, regardless of religion or non-religion, to function properly. Some people go to anime club for that, some are part of furry fandom for that, some go to church for that, some are engaged in political parties for that and it goes on and on and on. And I was not giving Jesus credit for ideas, he stands as a symbol, someone people know and respect. If you told people that you believe in the teachings of Bob, they would just ignore you and you lost people for a cause in a world where people think praying or liking posts actually make a different when you actually need to get out there and physically do something for a better world.

You just sound bitter and cynical to me. I don't need people who always see the negative in everything, that would probably contibute to another depressive episode. If you want sincere contructive criticism, you should definitely change your tone. You can write all that without constantly accusing people of stuff. It felt like you were intentionally rude and trying to provoke a screaming match.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #72 on: March 12, 2017, 11:58:16 AM »
...tell you how it's irrational to to believe in helping others based on a view you have of a historical figure...as opposed to...helping them because it's the right thing to do? I'm sorry, I'm feeling ill. This is the sort of thing that happened on the website I had to quit. I'm done. I'm out. This level of disconnect from reality is beyond my capability to tolerate.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 12:08:42 PM by Mathim »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #73 on: March 12, 2017, 12:09:46 PM »
Cuz a whole lot of people do not help people when there is no community or common cause available. You are starting to become very disrespectful now.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2017, 01:57:52 PM »
Well I don't appreciate someone being dishonest and not admitting it when they've been called on it. That's pretty disrespectful and insulting to my intelligence.

Have you ever listened to Matt Dillahunty's talk on the superiority of secular morality? I think it might help put things in perspective. Adding a fluffy bunny myth to one's mindset for doing good adds nothing to it if you're already doing it from a motivation based on reason and not on a figurehead of dubious moral and intellectual character. I just can't wrap my mind around why this bizarre pseudophilosophical position even exists let alone merits defending. Rather than falling back on symbols which I can only assume are meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator, why not encourage people to actually think more, emancipate themselves from buzzwords and false idols, and avoid the potential for twisting one's mild irrational beliefs into even bigger ones?

If you're going to pick a role model, I guess the biggest thing I'm failing to grasp is why pick a symbol of so much hypocrisy and the ultimate case of doing exactly the opposite of what was intended when you stand back and look at it critically? A guy who preaches peace and yet says he comes to bring war as well, to enforce the laws and yet condemns their enforcement when confronted, and ultimately sends the message that the brutal death of a human is needed to prevent human deaths. This sort of cognitive dissonance you have to be juggling around in your mind boggles the hell out of mine. I mean, you'd be better off using Batman or Captain America as a basis for your nonreligious belief system.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #75 on: March 12, 2017, 02:49:26 PM »
You saying that I am supposedly dishonest doesn't make me so. I speak here with full honesty.

What is your problem? Because I never stated I believe in the supernatural or in any god.

And you do not seem to get it. Being an atheist doesn't automatically make you smart or superior. A lot of young people think it makes them smart or superior. And stop using words you are clearly abusing such as "pseudophilosophical". What you are, are just a plain ol' missionary. Someone who has to belittle others because they have different views than him and tries to guilt them to think like him.

I am tired of your condescending attitude and I am not going to respond anymore, if you keep on being a dick about it.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 02:56:31 PM by Noisekick »

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #76 on: March 12, 2017, 03:20:20 PM »
You're still claiming that faith is compatible with science and using a completely dishonest definition to justify this after I've called you out on it. Both claims are false (painfully obviously so) and you've failed to either acknowledge this or give a defense for them. If this is not a criteria for dishonesty, then I honestly don't know what is. If you'd care to give a reasonable explanation of why faith is not incompatible with science, I might change my mind. But I sincerely do not believe you can provide one.

I never asserted that you believe in the supernatural or god. Do not put words in my mouth. I am questioning your seemingly unnecessary idolization of the Jesus character as a role model when this is an objectively absurd thing to do given his character flaws and the appalling nature of the stories surrounding him. I understand why the adherents who do purport to believe in both the story as truth and claims of divinity as truth do base their lives around it because they are indoctrinated in almost all cases and given a false image and are taught not to question it. But I do not understand someone who doesn't believe in the underlying myths and yet still uses it as a basis for morals and/or philosophy without such excess theological baggage. It makes no sense to me to cling to it without the 'bells and whistles' as Edward Norton put it in Death to Smoochy. If you could explain why that makes a difference between it and simply secular moral philosophy without appeal to any figurehead, that might help me understand where you are coming from because-cards on the table-it does sound quite a bit like you are simply unwilling to let completely go of a belief system you abandoned.

I never said being an atheist makes someone smarter than another because that would be an objectively, demonstrably false claim. I used the word 'irrational' specifically because of its distinction between that and simple stupidity. Besides which, atheism is the incorrect term to use anyway, as you would be more likely referring to a rationalist and/or skeptic. By definition something irrational doesn't MAKE SENSE. My explanation of what your sort of worldview sounds like to my ears should demonstrate that I see it as irrational. I am questioning why you would make a virtue of basing your life around something irrational. If it is not in fact irrational and you can explain how that is, I will recant my misunderstanding.

Perhaps we both misunderstood each other and I provided a clear enough basis for why I'm unable to accept your claims at face value or accept that they are rational and/or reasonable. That we had to keep dancing around each other does try my patience very quickly and when it comes to this area of discourse, my attitude adjusts towards indignation when I perceive dishonesty, particularly if it seems intentional.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 03:23:22 PM by Mathim »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #77 on: March 12, 2017, 03:40:24 PM »
About your previous reply, that sounds like an incredibly disingenuous use of faith as an equivalency to an actual rationally justified belief. Like, literally insulting in the highest degree that you would say that a person has faith in science. I reject the definition provided. You wouldn't say you had faith in science AFTER it had proved itself to be completely reliable, only before you could verify this. It saddens me that this act of dishonesty, whether in ignorance or genuine disregard for truth, is what is keeping this conflict from ever being resolved. Pretending there's not a problem when there very obviously is not only does not help, but it makes the side doing that look like the bad guy.

The bolded language is unnecessary an uncalled for. I know many nontheists in debating circles feel attacked by language like Noisekick's, but this is not the appropriate response on these forums.

Science is founded on empiricism. What you perceive with your senses, and what you can deduce logically from those observations. Which is to say, 'not faith', by definition. That is all you need to say.

You don't need to belabor the point, or worse, attack people over it. Nothing Noisekick has said was intentionally deceptive, and it is not conducive to healthy discourse to accuse them of such.

People are going to be wrong about things. Throughout their lives. This is not the same as lying.

If you genuinely feel someone is trolling, use the report button.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #78 on: March 12, 2017, 03:47:56 PM »
Not trolling per se but it's such a common misconception it really needs to be nipped in the bud. It's not quite one of the religious trigger words that really get to me but I honestly don't appreciate when the two different things are equated. Perhaps I overreacted, though I do feel slighted when I hear the comparison.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #79 on: March 12, 2017, 03:58:23 PM »
Imagine, religion being an addiction, just like cigarettes. Like with cigarettes, some people cannot quit cold turkey, so they need therapy. Jesuanism is like cessation therapy. It takes an element of the religion just as something symbolic to help people towards humanism. This symbol can be someone else. However the picture targets solely people coming from Christianity. It practically is just humanism with a slight christian undertones. That actual faith of it lies in altruism, it glorifies altruism. I personally live below the poverty line but still help people with what I can. The part where faith and science don't contradict is where the faith I am talking about is not the conventionally understood faith. It idolizes a certain kind of behavior and not necessarily a person, the person is only involved for above mentioned reasons. And of course Jesus had flaws, as no one is without flaws. Looks into psychology a bit more, maybe the picture would become clearer to you then.

If you are wondering what books (outside of manga) I read, it is usually Karl Popper, Friedrich Nietzsche, Proudhon, Susan Haack and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

If you still don't understand why it is that way, you do not need to continue. Otherwise just stop and I will stop too.

PS: I must add, I am not very profound (in the sense of cognitively) when it comes to verbal communication. It may be so much that it poses as an inability to articulate myself correctly, which leads to common misunderstandings. For many it may not be noticeable on a conscious level, but may occur subconsciously. You first know there was a misunderstanding when it is too late. While this conversation was frustrating and exhausting, I tried my best to keep my cool. It gets worse for me with oral communication compared to written communication, however in written communication it can be just as bad, just not as common.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 04:07:38 PM by Noisekick »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #80 on: March 12, 2017, 04:34:40 PM »
Out of curiosity, noisekick, do you feel explicitly religious discussions about Jesus are relevant to your...struggles for a word...errr...worldview?

To take a pretty easy to discuss example;  There are some Christians who believe Jesus is the Son of God, some who believe he was a divinely inspired prophet.  While, obviously, you don't believe either of those positions yourself, it would be possible for those sorts of conversations to "spill over" in to your own practice.  For example, those denominations that believe in a reduced or non-existant divinity of Christ have various theological structures for why he is still worthy of veneration which would seem pretty easy to co-opt in to your own worldview with minor changes.  Do you follow/have any interest in that sort of explicitly religious examination of Jesus?

I'm genuinely not sure how clear that question was!

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #81 on: March 12, 2017, 05:26:11 PM »
I get the addiction therapy standpoint but I still don't understand how you can accept that, flawed a character as Jesus is, he's still worthy of emulation or veneration in any degree whatsoever. You could easily substitute any other exemplar of good ethics and cognition. Just seems like asking for trouble to choose something that made it so easy to justify exterminating the Jews. Every time someone mentions the name I'm like, "Do you even know what that was all about?" They say you should never meet your heroes and I'm sure that's true. I would bet Stan Lee can be a huge asshole if you know him but I love the stuff he's created. I can separate the person from the stuff attached, but when it comes to Mr. J, that becomes nearly impossible for anyone. Putting anyone on that kind of pedestal is a huge mistake and look where it's gotten the world keeping one there. That's why I'm so puzzled by how that particular figurehead could possibly be considered the 'right' sort of thing to use in this supposed emancipating process. If people were genuinely honest about the truth behind their myths and mythical figures, things would be a lot different; we'd have no choice but to acknowledge that the Abrahamic faiths worship a bloodthirsty demon with no love for humanity and no common sense. Which is why I addressed both the necessity AND desirability of having any connection to a figure from that mythology. I wouldn't be able to remain connected in any way to that tainted story or anyone involved in it without either hating myself for it or lying to myself so severely I'd probably develop some sort of disorder. But that's just me.

But if there's one thing I'm grateful to my mom for in being her usual half-assed and neglectful self about, it's how she indoctrinated me, which is to say she never really put much effort into it and so I couldn't have been fully brought into it and subsequently easily made my escape. But I was always a natural skeptic so it probably wouldn't have taken anyway. Still, it took a good long while before I comprehended that Noah's Ark was a story about Yahweh murdering the entire planet because he didn't like that we were enjoying the genitalia he installed and programmed to dominate the majority of our impulses. Maybe that's how it is for the majority of the rest of the atrocities in the bible, people just have that severe of tunnel vision about it. But I never really got familiar with many bible stories so I spent most of my pre-20's life not hearing about half the crap in there that would have traumatized me if I heard about it when I was younger.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2017, 05:28:11 PM by Mathim »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #82 on: March 13, 2017, 01:15:47 PM »
Kythia, no. Even everyday conversations can be troubling for me. And I don't regularly discuss my religious views, this is the second time in twelve months where such a discussion coming from different POVs has occured. I rarely discuss my views as is. The difficult communication part may come from my autism or rather is has been indicated that it is a factor why I was diagnosed with autism.

Mathim, it was already explained why Jesus (I am not going to explain it again). Plus it is people who screwed up and killed people in his name. If people killed in the name of Stan Lee, you wouldn't go around saying Stan Lee is an evil person would you? You would condemn the maniac who murdered people.

My dad is agnostic and my mom is Catholic but never attends church. My direct family is actually very liberal, my extended family is however rather conservative.

If you don't understand it, then you just don't understand it. No human can understand everything. Everyone has weak spots.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #83 on: March 13, 2017, 01:49:19 PM »
I actually meant "conversation", "discussion", etc in a broader way - maybe reading about or thinking through or whatever.  Dialogue and engagement more than a face to face conversation.  Regardless, I think you've probably answered my broader question anyway.

If I might venture a follow up - how do you feel about Jesus as a role model for areas of life not directly connected to morality?  For example, he was circumcised, he probably ate Kosher, etc etc etc.  Is there any benefit to following those examples?

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #84 on: March 13, 2017, 02:50:58 PM »
Pretty much just altruism. Bible is in my fictional/fantasy section of my bookcase.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #85 on: March 13, 2017, 06:12:48 PM »
It took me a while to shake free of the 'Jesus was a great man, even if he wasn't the Son of God' concept.  When I realized that the concept of Hell as a punishment was not in the Old Testament, but introduced by Jesus, I stopped thinking of him as a communist hippie type.  He had some good ideas, some mediocre ones, and some terrible ones.  Treating people with respect is a good idea.  Taking no thought for the future is a bad idea.  Taking care of the homeless, imprisoned, and sick is a very good idea.  Loving your enemies is a very bad idea.  Saying that people who didn't believe in him as the Messiah should be tortured for all eternity--that is one of the sickest, most evil ideas in history.

Offline Missy

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #86 on: March 14, 2017, 12:01:44 AM »
Actually it's considered much more likely that the concept of hell originated from Germanic/Norse Mythology (research "Hel" with only one l to learn more).

Another curious note which may or may not be accurate is according to Mormon theology the Catholic church made some significant changes to the form, nature and practice of Christian doctrine over a period of a few hundred years.

In any case it's entirely possible that such accreditations to Jesus Christ constituted later edits to the Christian scripture, as was and still is exceedingly common. It's considered common knowledge and strongly argued by some that the original text of the Bible is long since lost.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #87 on: March 14, 2017, 01:15:42 AM »
Actually it's considered much more likely that the concept of hell originated from Germanic/Norse Mythology (research "Hel" with only one l to learn more).

Another curious note which may or may not be accurate is according to Mormon theology the Catholic church made some significant changes to the form, nature and practice of Christian doctrine over a period of a few hundred years.

In any case it's entirely possible that such accreditations to Jesus Christ constituted later edits to the Christian scripture, as was and still is exceedingly common. It's considered common knowledge and strongly argued by some that the original text of the Bible is long since lost.

The Bible predates Norse mythology by several hundred years.  Your source refers to the English word "Hell" not the concept and specifically states that it too predates any contact with the Norse.  Hell is nothing to do with Norse mythology, the concept came from Greek and Jewish mythology - while Hannibal is correct that the concept of the place as one of punishment doesn't appear in the OT, it was common in Jewish thought long before Jesus' birth.

Further, while I'm not entirely certain what you mean by the original text of the Bible being lost, we have a pretty strong idea what the very early Bible looked like.  After all, we have fragments of text dating from within a few years of their being written. 

That's all by the by though.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #88 on: March 14, 2017, 03:46:11 AM »
Regardless of the source, I think we can agree that a place of infinite punishment for finite crimes is inherently immoral...especially if all you have to do to get there is not worship a specific God. It's not only immoral, but petty and a gross abuse of power in the first place, and I would seriously question the character of any Deity who deigned to create such a place, or at least to allow its continued existence.

I mean, even the worst mass murderer on the planet is only ever going to hurt a finite number of people in his lifetime, so obviously his punishment - however harsh - should eventually end, no? Infinite punishment for a finite crime is wrong. And let's not even touch on the fact that this place of eternal torment was supposedly created by an all loving Being....

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #89 on: March 14, 2017, 10:55:23 AM »
Like I said, the Bible is under fiction for a reason. It is a book written 2000 to 3500 years ago that may have been modern at the time it was written, but nowadays any angry redneck with a flipflopping moral compass could have written it. It has some good advice and a lot of bad advice.

"Loving your foes." Is more of an archaic translation and in meaning it means to be forgiving, especially if your foe shows regret.

Also if you ever read the poetic Edda, there are some parallels to Pauline Christianity.

Also most Jesuans believe the bible to generally be a lie as the parts about Jesus weren't written by the man himself and because the bible contains so much supernatural bullshit. Their views are based more off of the core view of Jesus as an altruistic person and socialistic principles. If you don't get LaVeyans you wont get Jesuans (a lot of Jesuans I know get along with Laveyans well because the selfishness of Laveyan Satanists can ultimately lead them to be altruistic to fulfill their own desires. It sounds like a paradox that selfishness can lead to selflessness).

Kythia, actually Norse mythology in its oral form predates the New Testament. And why are we talking about hell when I already said that all the supernatural stuff is hooey?

But I think we may be going too far off topic and should go back to the original topic of the thread.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #90 on: March 14, 2017, 02:21:42 PM »
Kythia, actually Norse mythology in its oral form predates the New Testament. And why are we talking about hell when I already said that all the supernatural stuff is hooey?

Of course we'll never know precisely how long oral traditions lasted, but this is incredibly unlikely to the best of my knowledge.  Do you have anything to support this?  It's not a claim I've heard before and I can't find anything to suggest it is the case. And we're talking about Hell because Hannibal brought it up.

But you are probably right that we're off topic.

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #91 on: March 14, 2017, 05:56:02 PM »
In wikipedia, it says Norse mythology is a part of Germanic mythology which exists since the Proto-Germanic period or pre-Roman bronze age which is 5th to 1st century BC, making it 200 to 600 years older than the new testament.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #92 on: March 15, 2017, 12:10:37 AM »
According to some of AronRa's videos, Zoroastrianism is actually where a lot of the ideas in Judaism were plagiarized from, including a proto-example of a hell-like afterlife.

What I took away from the conversation is that there's just no getting around the hypocrisy no matter how distant a person gets from the mythology. If you're not all the way out, there are compromises that have to be made that are going to inevitably be irrational. If a person is comfortable with that, whatever, but try not to use word games to make it sound like something it's not, I guess would be the most reasonable thing I could ask after all's said and done.


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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #93 on: March 15, 2017, 01:12:38 AM »
In wikipedia, it says Norse mythology is a part of Germanic mythology which exists since the Proto-Germanic period or pre-Roman bronze age which is 5th to 1st century BC, making it 200 to 600 years older than the new testament.

Ah, I see.  You're conflating two things here.  Germanic Mythology exists since then, Norse mythology doesn't  (again to the best of my understanding, this isn't my area).  It'd be like saying "Elliquiy is on the Internet which dates back to the seventies.  Hence Elliquiy was started in the seventies".  Norse mythology dates to the age of migration in around the five hundreds and didn't take a recognisable form to us today until the nine hundreds.

And yes, you can see traces of Zoroastrianism across the oldest parts of the Old Testament.  I think "plagiarised" is putting it a little, errrr, aggressively (was Rock 'n' Roll "plagiarised" from Jazz?) though.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 01:33:23 AM by Kythia »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #94 on: March 15, 2017, 01:43:51 PM »
Bad analogy on your part. Norse mythology is a part of Germanic mythology, it is actually pretty much the same just with other names for gods and places. Also "exists since the pre-Roman bronze age" means that it sprung up in that time, not anywhere before or after. That period was 5th to 1st century BC which means even if it is borderline in that period to the next, it still means it is older than the New Testament.

To your analogy, the internet is current and has been for about 40 years now. However we do not live in the pre-Roman Bronze Age.

Germanic mythology developed out of a possible Indo-European religion of which Roman mythology and Zoroastrianism possibly also stem from. Christianity however is a hybrid of semitic religion (specifically Judaism) and Roman mythology with other Indo-European influences (such as a virgin mother of the reincarnate of a deity which is also found in the ancient Kemetic religion, Hittite mythology, Roman mythology, Greek mythology, Hinduism (see Maya) etc.). It is Indo-European religion that actually influenced Christianity.

PS: The earliest written document about the Germanic beliefs is "Germania" by Tacitus, written in the year 98 AD. It is also an ancient book that is published even in the modern era and can be bought online and at book stores (of course translated).
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 02:15:21 PM by Noisekick »

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #95 on: March 15, 2017, 04:32:40 PM »
A lot of this is incorrect, noisekick, but we're dragging this thread further and further off topic.  Shall we take it to PMs?

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #96 on: March 15, 2017, 09:06:01 PM »
Nah, I am tired and exhausted. I don't want to dwell on this for too long really.

Offline Tick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #97 on: March 20, 2017, 10:07:04 AM »
I'm responding directly to the opening post and have not caught up in the conversation. I wanted to just say:

This is a rather well written post which I appreciate as it defines every relevant term. Coming from a debate background it is very, very nice.

Now, these definitions are not how I was taught and kinda messed with me a bit. I am not going to say you are wrong in the slightest, definitions and terms vary by who is defining them.

According to the definitions provided, I am a weak Atheist(Agnostic Atheist)  and have been since I was twelve. Now, I always was under the understanding I was agnostic by how I was taught. The way I was taught it:

Athiest: someone who doesn't believe, is equivalent to someone who doesn't believe there is a higher power/place after death.
Agnostic: Someone who doesn't know, is equivalent to someone who doesn't know if/or which god or place after death there is.

Now, your definitions are add more subcategories and are cleaner in a certain light.

I feel like if(which I probably will since they are clean and logical and I like those qualities) I start using these classifications for myself, I will have to explain this every time.

I appreciate this post, and thank you again for having such clean definitions and explanations.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #98 on: March 21, 2017, 02:44:15 AM »
I had an experience five or six years back that convinced me that God exists. I've always believed to one level or another, but I heard people talking about experiencing God directly, hearing his voice, whatever, and kinda chuckled. The God I believed in didn't get involved in human affairs. But then I had my Experience, capital "E" is appropriate. It wasn't a voice, or a light, or an angelic choir, or anything like that. It was just a warm blanket of absolute, unconditional love and safety. A comfort that you might feel as a small child in your mother's arms.

I am sure someone can come up with a million scientific or chemical reasons for it, but I can tell you that I was traveling on a Greyhound bus at the time, so my feeling of absolute love and security certainly didn't come from the people around me. I don't think there's anything special about me, please don't think I'm saying that. I'm just saying that I had an Experience, for which I personally have no scientific explanation.

I would point out that in the tenets of MOST Protestant Churches (I can't speak for every splinter branch) man is saved through faith alone. Just like in the Athiest pledge there in the first post, I do good things, not because I hope to be rewarded or I fear punishment, but because they are the right thing to do.

But the thing is that I am very much not an evangelist. I believe God exists, and the body of evidence (my Experience) has convinced me that God exists. It works for me. But I am NOT a bible-thumper, nor someone who believes that non-believers will go to hell. (I don't believe in hell... the two don't necessarily go hand in hand.) I have certainly met people who believe that way, but I have a significant problem with a God who sends good people to hell (eternal and endless torture) simply because they don't believe in him. I believe in God. Most of my friends don't. I don't pray for their souls or pray for them to see the light of God or anything like that. That always felt like the height of arrogance to me, along the lines of the people who "know" that they'll be taken into heaven "when the rapture happens." (There's no reference to the rapture in the Bible. But the Bible does say "Pride goeth before a fall.")

I digress.

Please also allow me to point out that my belief in God does not mean that I am ignorant or that I abandon logic/reason. I do NOT believe in the absolute truth of the Bible. Science is my guiding principal in the physical world, the world around me that can be observed and measured and tested. Faith and Science occupy two different realms in my world view, and never the twain shall meet. I cannot prove the existence of God even to myself, so I cannot prove the existence of God to anyone else. I believe, and I believe that I have a strong reason to believe, but that's all.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #99 on: March 21, 2017, 05:47:08 AM »
I'm just saying that I had an Experience, for which I personally have no scientific explanation.

I swear to Hitchens here, I am not trying to be mean. But isn't that just the "Argument From Ignorance" Fallacy? "I don't know, therefore God?" I mean, you had this Experience. Cool. But...what evidence do you have that it was a God of some description? I'm only asking because obviously, your own personal subjective, unverifiable experience is not going to be particularly good evidence to convince somebody else, so...do you have anything that would prove that this happened the way you remember it, or that a God was responsible?

I mean. Obviously if there's a deity out there I want to know about it, so...if you have some evidence, that would be awesome!


I believe in God. Most of my friends don't. I don't pray for their souls or pray for them to see the light of God or anything like that.

So, since you obviously don't take the Bible literally, would you mind defining what you mean when you say "God," since it obviously isn't the God of The Bible. Or is it some kind of mesh of that and your own ideas on divinity?


Science is my guiding principal in the physical world, the world around me that can be observed and measured and tested.

Not to be rude - I swear - but then...does that mean that you are open to the possibility that you are wrong about your experience? Because a one off experience is not exactly overwhelming, undeniable evidence, y'know? At least, not to me.


Faith and Science occupy two different realms in my world view, and never the twain shall meet.

What you're talking about is the Twin Magesterium, and I have to say that I disagree. If you believe in a Deity that gets involved in this "plane" of existence, if there are more than one plane, then his/her/it/zhers effect can be seen and measured and tested, and then Faith and Science do not stay separate. The thing is that the Scientific Method and Faith are directly opposed; one relies on demonstrable, repeatable evidence and one...well, doesn't. Why do you apply your scientific rigour and logical structure to everything but God? Why is God in this special box that logic and science cannot touch? Surely if there is a deity, an all powerful creator (assuming for a moment that that is your definition of God), then that is the BIGGEST possible question about all of reality...so obviously, Science can't help but be interested.


I cannot prove the existence of God even to myself, so I cannot prove the existence of God to anyone else.

If you can't prove his existence - or even his probability - then why do you believe it? And that isn't me being snarky, it's a genuine question.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #100 on: March 21, 2017, 11:08:38 AM »
Quote
I swear to Hitchens here, I am not trying to be mean. But isn't that just the "Argument From Ignorance" Fallacy? "I don't know, therefore God?" I mean, you had this Experience. Cool. But...what evidence do you have that it was a God of some description? I'm only asking because obviously, your own personal subjective, unverifiable experience is not going to be particularly good evidence to convince somebody else, so...do you have anything that would prove that this happened the way you remember it, or that a God was responsible?

I mean. Obviously if there's a deity out there I want to know about it, so...if you have some evidence, that would be awesome!

No, I don't have any evidence that it was God or A God. If it were that easy to assemble evidence, I'd hardly need to assemble my own, and this debate wouldn't be happening. I'm not asking you to believe in God because I had an Experience. I'm just stating that my own belief in God stems at least in part from what happened. Let's recall also that an important part of the statement is that people would talk about their own "God Experiences" and that I scoffed, because I'd never experienced such a thing before. I've had occasions where I've been inexplicably happy, or felt loved, but I've never felt something so complete, so down to my absolute soul as that moment on the bus between Portland and Salem.

Quote
So, since you obviously don't take the Bible literally, would you mind defining what you mean when you say "God," since it obviously isn't the God of The Bible. Or is it some kind of mesh of that and your own ideas on divinity?

It's the God of the Bible. It's not a requirement to take the Bible literally to believe in a Biblical God. If you grew up in a religion that believes that you must take the Bible literally or renounce your faith, I'm sorry for that, but it's certainly not my branch of Protestantism. I either have to believe that God created the world in six days, and that the world is about six thousand years old, or I can't believe in God? Yeah. Right. Please don't tell me what I have to think in order to believe.

Quote
Not to be rude - I swear - but then...does that mean that you are open to the possibility that you are wrong about your experience? Because a one off experience is not exactly overwhelming, undeniable evidence, y'know? At least, not to me.

Absolutely I'm open to it. It wouldn't be faith if it were absolute proof. As I said above, it's difficult to explain just how deeply moving the Experience was, but it's possible that I'm wrong about the source. I've never said it's absolute proof by any means. I believe it was God, but it's possible it wasn't. Who am I to say?

Quote
What you're talking about is the Twin Magesterium, and I have to say that I disagree. If you believe in a Deity that gets involved in this "plane" of existence, if there are more than one plane, then his/her/it/zhers effect can be seen and measured and tested, and then Faith and Science do not stay separate. The thing is that the Scientific Method and Faith are directly opposed; one relies on demonstrable, repeatable evidence and one...well, doesn't. Why do you apply your scientific rigour and logical structure to everything but God? Why is God in this special box that logic and science cannot touch? Surely if there is a deity, an all powerful creator (assuming for a moment that that is your definition of God), then that is the BIGGEST possible question about all of reality...so obviously, Science can't help but be interested.

Science deals with what can be proved or disproved. Tell me how to rigorously prove or disprove the existence of God, and I'll let science get involved in my religion. You've already told me that I can't believe in God without believing in the literal truth of the Bible, now you're telling me that in order to believe that Science describes the world around us, I must therefore not believe in God. Isn't it possible that you're misunderstanding what faith actually means?

Look, science describes the laws of the physical world, from the movements of whole superstructures of the universe down to the tiniest subatomic particle. From the evolution of our species from some self-replicating chemicals to what we are today, to the microevolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. But science depends on the accumulation of scientific evidence to prove its hypotheses, to codify them into theories or laws.

By definition science cannot prove or disprove that God exists because there's no scientific evidence for his existence. But (and I shudder to use this cliché, so I apologize, but it's relevant) absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

My belief in God does not interfere with the realm of science, nor does my belief in science interfere with my belief in God. There are plenty of people out there who think the two are incompatible on both sides, but I'm not one of those people. I believe those people show a lack of imagination or a lack of understanding of science and/or faith.

Quote
If you can't prove his existence - or even his probability - then why do you believe it? And that isn't me being snarky, it's a genuine question.

I believe in God because I have faith.

Really, that's the only answer I can give. I believe in God because I believe in God. There's nothing more to it than that. Faith is a belief without proof. I have no proof. I have no evidence that I can carry outside of myself. I could be wrong. That's the thing about faith. You have to be willing to be wrong. There's nothing bad or evil about being wrong.

It all comes around again to:

I believe in God because I have faith.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #101 on: March 21, 2017, 11:24:34 AM »
No, I don't have any evidence that it was God or A God. If it were that easy to assemble evidence, I'd hardly need to assemble my own, and this debate wouldn't be happening. I'm not asking you to believe in God because I had an Experience. I'm just stating that my own belief in God stems at least in part from what happened. Let's recall also that an important part of the statement is that people would talk about their own "God Experiences" and that I scoffed, because I'd never experienced such a thing before. I've had occasions where I've been inexplicably happy, or felt loved, but I've never felt something so complete, so down to my absolute soul as that moment on the bus between Portland and Salem.

Ok. But my point was, how do you know that a God was responsible? How did you go about establishing that?


It's the God of the Bible. It's not a requirement to take the Bible literally to believe in a Biblical God. If you grew up in a religion that believes that you must take the Bible literally or renounce your faith, I'm sorry for that, but it's certainly not my branch of Protestantism. I either have to believe that God created the world in six days, and that the world is about six thousand years old, or I can't believe in God? Yeah. Right. Please don't tell me what I have to think in order to believe.

Well, that isn't quite what I meant, but that's on me; I should have worded it more carefully. What I meant was, "You don't believe in the god of the Literal bible."
But now that you've brought it up (sorta), can I ask you...if you don't take the bible 100% literally, how do you choose the bits that you take literally or follow as The Word of God (since Christianity is kind of hinged on the fact that the Bible is at least partially reflective of the character and wishes of God), and how do you choose which bits to discard or take as a metaphor? What criteria do you use?


Absolutely I'm open to it. It wouldn't be faith if it were absolute proof. As I said above, it's difficult to explain just how deeply moving the Experience was, but it's possible that I'm wrong about the source. I've never said it's absolute proof by any means. I believe it was God, but it's possible it wasn't. Who am I to say?

And that's where I come unstuck, I guess. In my mind, it's irrational to accept an explanation until it's been demonstrated to be accurate.


Science deals with what can be proved or disproved. Tell me how to rigorously prove or disprove the existence of God, and I'll let science get involved in my religion. You've already told me that I can't believe in God without believing in the literal truth of the Bible, now you're telling me that in order to believe that Science describes the world around us, I must therefore not believe in God. Isn't it possible that you're misunderstanding what faith actually means?

Actually, I didn't say that. You inferred that from some bad wording on my part, but I've clarified myself above.
But no, I'm not saying any of that at all. What I'm saying is that the Twin Magesterium don't quite exist in their own little bubbles as you think they do. If (and I'm saying if, because I'm not sure whether you subscribe to this belief, so please correct me if you don't) you believe in a deity that intervenes in the material world, we can go about testing that influence. Now, we aren't able to determine the mechanism, sure, but we can determine whether something is happening. For example, scientists have already conducted experiments into the effects of intercessionary prayer on behalf of medical patients (and come up with: It don't do squat, as far as we can tell). We may not be able to test for the supernatural, but if you believe in a deity who gets involved, we can most certainly test to see if you might be onto something in terms of what those effects are.

Also, I know what Faith means; there are several definitions for different contexts, of course (English is tricksy like a hobbit like that), but in this context it simply means belief without evidence. My point is, why would you accept faith as a pathway to truth, when there is - by definition - no way to verify if it is accurate?


Look, science describes the laws of the physical world, from the movements of whole superstructures of the universe down to the tiniest subatomic particle. From the evolution of our species from some self-replicating chemicals to what we are today, to the microevolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. But science depends on the accumulation of scientific evidence to prove its hypotheses, to codify them into theories or laws.

By definition science cannot prove or disprove that God exists because there's no scientific evidence for his existence. But (and I shudder to use this cliché, so I apologize, but it's relevant) absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Well, unless you would expect the presence to leave evidence. EG, game on a trail; if you don't see footprints of an elephant in the wet mud, you can safely assume an elephant has not been on that path recently because if they stomped through, they would have left footprints.
But to go further; sure, absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence, but if there is no evidence, why should we believe The Thing?


My belief in God does not interfere with the realm of science, nor does my belief in science interfere with my belief in God. There are plenty of people out there who think the two are incompatible on both sides, but I'm not one of those people. I believe those people show a lack of imagination or a lack of understanding of science and/or faith.

I don't think so. Science is the practice of evaluation and investigation to gather evidence to figure out the truth of reality. Faith is the belief of something without evidence. You can have faith and be a scientist, but I think that leads to a rather large dose of cognitive dissonance, and at least a little bit of special pleading.

I believe in God because I have faith.

Really, that's the only answer I can give. I believe in God because I believe in God. There's nothing more to it than that. Faith is a belief without proof. I have no proof. I have no evidence that I can carry outside of myself. I could be wrong. That's the thing about faith. You have to be willing to be wrong. There's nothing bad or evil about being wrong.

It all comes around again to:

I believe in God because I have faith.

Ok, so, my question is;

If you do not have any evidence, why do you have faith? Why accept something as huge as the existence of a supreme deity which will presumably impact how you live your life in a fundamental way without any shred of evidence? Do you accept other peoples unfalsifiable claims on faith alone? If not, why not?

And no, there is nothing evil about being wrong.
Just like there's nothing wrong with simply saying "I don't know" rather than saying "I don't know, therefore God."

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #102 on: March 21, 2017, 12:59:00 PM »
We're talking at cross-purposes here. You keep trying to find a way in which faith is rational. You will never, ever, ever find it.

Faith isn't rational!

If the thing that I have faith in could be proven, I wouldn't have faith. Not only does faith not require proof, it requires the lack of proof.

If you don't like it, meh. Why should I care? If my faith offends someone, that's their problem, not mine, since my faith is entirely internalized. I require no validation from others, nor do I seek to convert others. I am a rational, logical person in all areas except for my faith.

My faith is a comfort, whether or not it is well founded.

Everything comes down to one question:

Does God exist or not?

Guess what?

It doesn't matter.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #103 on: March 21, 2017, 03:33:22 PM »
You're not the kind of person in which religion or faith is a problem for anyone around you, LostInTheMist.  You're perfectly willing to let others live and let live.  I have a problem with those who try to legislate their own beliefs so that others are forced to follow them.

And your personal experiences are exactly that, yours.  No one can take them away from you.  We all have experiences we can never really fully explain to others because, simply, we can't be inside their body or mind and experience them for ourselves.  There are, however, common traits and experiences we all have, simply from being human.  The thing is, you posted here, so you offered your own opinion and experiences for us to examine.  That's what this thread was for.  That also means it might be questioned.

Quote
Does God exist or not?

Guess what?

It doesn't matter.

I have to disagree with that.  Seeing how the very question has driven wiser people than all of us since the first time humanity could ask the question, I think it is very relevant.  I'm not driven by faith, but I am driven by truth.  I want to accept the most true things and the least false things I can in this life, because I think that is the way to maximum happiness for me individually, and humanity in general. 

There are billions of people on this planet who profess faith in one kind of being or another.  Since many of them are in direct contravention with one another, they can't all be true.  It is possible that none of them are true.  Humanity has experienced untold suffering throughout the milennia over the directions of people--usually the powerful, the few--who have told other people to believe in one faith or another, and that those who believed differently were wrong or evil, sometimes worth enslaving or killing.  There are people in this world who still believe this sort of thing today.  Not all religions do, but the point is that all religions have their faith, their request--sometimes demand--that they be believed with no evidence whatsoever.

Doesn't that beg the question: Which one is true?

This is where I was years ago, before I gave up belief...because there was a question I had that was of a higher order than accepting what someone else told me on faith--I wanted to know if what they told me was true.

Was Jesus the only way to salvation?  Was Mohammad truly the last Prophet?  Did Buddha know the true path to enlightenment?  How about the gods hardly anyone worships anymore?  Athena?  Quetzalcuatl?  Amon-Ra?  Or the thousands of animist systems that thrived before the written word was invented?

I was raised in faith and lived such for the first half of my life.  I understand it, because I lived it.  But the more I read and studied other faiths, the more I began to see that every religion has absolute faith in their own beliefs, with no evidence whatsoever.  I wanted the truth.  I wanted to believe what was true, not what was fed to me by my parents, church, or other people.  I know lots of people have been in the same situation.  For me, I can't just use rationality and evidence in every other aspect of my life, but throw it out the window for this one thing--this thing that is imperatively important if it is true--is there a purpose to my life beyond what I experience right now?

It's human nature to wonder these things.  The fact that there are thousands of religions, and tens of thousands of denominations of some of them, goes to show that everyone has their own experiences with this thing that is supposed by billions to be universal.  But--to me--to throw off any further rational discourse and simply say it's faith is a shutting of the door, a closing off of the mind to any other possibilities or the examination of what exactly the possibilities could be...to winnow away what is not possible, and to leave behind a closer position to the truth.

What is true, and what is not true, deeply matters to many people.  And the way you find the truth is by inquiry, consideration, the sharing of ideas, and making consensus on what the meaning of those results are.  Faith in no way reveals the truth.  It is the acceptance of an answer before the truth has been found.

I'm not an atheist because I say there are no gods.  I'm an atheist because, when someone asks me if there are gods, I say I don't know.  I have no reasonable cause to believe so.  And if I have no reason to do something, then I don't do it.

As I mentioned before--your faith doesn't hurt anyone outside of yourself.  I doubt it hurts you, either.  Some people use their faith as motivation, or as a driver to do good in the world.  The thing is, there are people who do good things without having faith in anything, so I know faith isn't necessary to do good in the world.  If it works for you, it works for you.  But for me and many others, we're driven by a desire to know the truth instead of an acceptance on faith.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 03:40:36 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #104 on: March 21, 2017, 05:37:31 PM »
If you do not have any evidence, why do you have faith? Why accept something as huge as the existence of a supreme deity which will presumably impact how you live your life in a fundamental way without any shred of evidence?

This is an interesting point, and something I've been thinking a lot about, recently, and I'd like to throw it out to the thread.

As some (all?  most?  none?) of you know I'm a practising Christian, work at a Cathedral, am a lay preacher in my faith and am studying a PhD in Theology - I say this to show that I am basically surrounded by co-religionists in most areas of my life.  And honestly, there is a vast spectrum of effects it has on someone's life but I'm not convinced that, for most people, if impacts in a fundamental way.

Large sections of the various congregations I am involved in are aging and, while I'm certain that if you were to ask them they would answer - and answer honestly - that they believed in God, Jesus, etc. I'm genuinely not sure of the effect that has on their life.  They come every Sunday, some even come on weekdays as well.  But that seems largely a social and ritual action rather than a pure religious expression.  Genuinely I'm not sure that it does impact their life in a fundamental way.  I... haven't fully decided how I feel about this.  On the one hand, Church attendance shouldn't be done carelessly and I see little point in being a Christening/Wedding/Funeral church attender, or a Easter and Christmas one (or a High holidays Jew, or a...parallels exist in most religions)

But on the other hand, is that a difference in kind from the way a priest or Bishop lives?  Lets take me as an example: I'm kind of a priest and at least I have the benefit of speaking first hand rather than assuming motives for someone else.  When I scrub the toilet or brush my teeth I doubt very much that the way I do it is meaningfully different to that of an atheist, a Muslim or any other flavour of religious belief.  So does it impact my life in a meaningful way?  If I made a list of all y actions in a day, I'd be amazed if even a quarter of them were motivated/influenced by faith.  I'd guess its closer to 5%, tbh (as, even though I work in a Cathedral my job there is entirely secular and analogues for it exist in (some) irreligious institutions).  And I'm genuinely not certain its possible to hold that belief in your head, constantly, 24/7, and view every action through that lens.  I've tried multiple times recently and I'm pretty damn certain that even if it is possible in the abstract its not possible for me.  Just try going through tomorrow holding the unquestioned fact that the majority of dogs have four legs in your head.  Or, if you want something more important, that...I dunno...that we're running out of water and something needs to be done about it.  You won't forget, per se, but there will be times when that point is simply not relevant to whatever the hell it is you're doing and its not longer at the front of your mind.  Or at leats I assume that'll be the case, it certainly is for me.

Even actions that were ultimately inspired by faith, I'm not (always) conscious of that fact when I do them.  I volunteer in various places and the original impetus for that was due to my faith, but that decision was taken several years ago and now I go out of...routine?  Not quite the word but the closest I can think of right now. 

If tomorrow evidence sufficient to persuade you were suddenly available - whatever you have in your heart of hearts decided "this is the thing that would convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists" happened - how much of your life would actually change?  I'm assuming you (and despite having quoted Vergil in the intro to this, I'm asking the question broadly) think of yourself as a moral person because, well, no one is the villain of their own life story.  So presumably your morals wouldn't change.   The actual requirements of the majority of religions are pretty light - orthodox Judaism might be an exception but generally the rules that need to be followed aren't terribly onerous or intrusive.  Even if you join a monastary or something, I know from talking about this with monks that the awareness follows something of an up or down pattern - morning prayers thinking about God and then stop thinking about Him directly as you start doing the finances or the washing or whatever. 

I'm just hoping to throw this out as a conversation - what makes you think it would be a fundamental change?  I notice that Hannibal mentioned something similar ("--this thing that is imperatively important if it is true-" emphasis in original).  Because, honestly, I think you're mistaken based on my own experiences.  And I'm kinda trying to decide if that's a problem (for me) or not. 

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #105 on: March 21, 2017, 11:44:23 PM »
We're talking at cross-purposes here. You keep trying to find a way in which faith is rational. You will never, ever, ever find it.

Faith isn't rational!

If the thing that I have faith in could be proven, I wouldn't have faith. Not only does faith not require proof, it requires the lack of proof.

If you don't like it, meh. Why should I care? If my faith offends someone, that's their problem, not mine, since my faith is entirely internalized. I require no validation from others, nor do I seek to convert others. I am a rational, logical person in all areas except for my faith.

My faith is a comfort, whether or not it is well founded.

Everything comes down to one question:

Does God exist or not?

Guess what?

It doesn't matter.

No, I'm not trying to find a way in which Faith is rational. I am simply trying to make the point that faith is not rational, so why believe anything because of it? Why rely on an irrational system to tell you what to believe when it - by definition - cannot be trusted to give accurate results?

You do seem to be getting a touch defensive. I'm not trying to be nasty or be an asshole here. You placed your opinion and your beliefs here, in an "Ask an Atheist" thread, so your beliefs are going to be questioned and analysed, as Hannibal rightly said.

I do pretty much agree with everything Hannibal said; "Does God Exist" is probably one of the single biggest questions in existence, since it addresses the very nature of our reality. Surely it matters very much whether the answer is yes or no?


@Kythia:

Well, it would affect whether I behaved to spite the God, whether I obeyed him, talked to him, took what he thought seriously, or just ignored it entirely. And if nothing else, surely the existence of a God is one of the biggest questions to be answered about our reality, so of course it matters, since it affects our very understanding of the way reality works. And if we can identify God and make appeals to him directly for certain things that he will grant, well, that's a mechanism we should be aware of, no? If only to try and regulate it against abuse. Or what if God exists and he's secretly plotting to try and wipe us all out with a meteor in 200 years? I think that would be very important for us to know, just so we can try and thwart him! A silly example, but hey, there's just as much evidence for that as there is for Allah or Yahweh or Russells Teapot. We don't know how we would benefit from that discovery, until we make it.

Very simply put, I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible, and since "Is there God" is one of the biggest questions to do with the very nature of our universe, I want to damn well know whether that's true or false.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #106 on: March 22, 2017, 12:56:53 AM »
I do pretty much agree with everything Hannibal said; "Does God Exist" is probably one of the single biggest questions in existence, since it addresses the very nature of our reality. Surely it matters very much whether the answer is yes or no?

I suppose my "it doesn't matter" was used for dramatic effect and I didn't really explain what I meant by that.

So here's more or less what I was thinking.

The existence of God is not the question here. It can't be proven, it can't be disproven. Evidence (whether personal, scientific, or whatever) for or against aside, the real question is whether faith is a negative or positive force. It's the BELIEF in God that is the crux of the issue in almost all these arguments, not the ACTUAL existence of God. Whether or not God exists isn't particularly relevant. It's what a belief in God means to those who believe and to those who don't believe.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #107 on: March 22, 2017, 01:11:07 AM »
@Kythia:

Well, it would affect whether I behaved to spite the God, whether I obeyed him, talked to him, took what he thought seriously, or just ignored it entirely. And if nothing else, surely the existence of a God is one of the biggest questions to be answered about our reality, so of course it matters, since it affects our very understanding of the way reality works. And if we can identify God and make appeals to him directly for certain things that he will grant, well, that's a mechanism we should be aware of, no? If only to try and regulate it against abuse. Or what if God exists and he's secretly plotting to try and wipe us all out with a meteor in 200 years? I think that would be very important for us to know, just so we can try and thwart him! A silly example, but hey, there's just as much evidence for that as there is for Allah or Yahweh or Russells Teapot. We don't know how we would benefit from that discovery, until we make it.

Very simply put, I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible, and since "Is there God" is one of the biggest questions to do with the very nature of our universe, I want to damn well know whether that's true or false.

Sorry, I obviously obfuscated my question behind a wall o' text.  I'm not arguing the question has a fundamental importance, I' saying I feel it doesn't overly impact one's life.  The nature of Dark Matter is a big question to do with the nature of our universe, but it has no effect on my life.  Whether I have clean clothes or not is one of the tiniest questions to do with the nature of our universe but has a massive impact on my life. 

Do you think the existence or otherwise of God would have more impact on your day to day life than a broken fridge?  If so, why? 

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #108 on: March 22, 2017, 01:42:10 AM »
I suppose my "it doesn't matter" was used for dramatic effect and I didn't really explain what I meant by that.

So here's more or less what I was thinking.

The existence of God is not the question here. It can't be proven, it can't be disproven. Evidence (whether personal, scientific, or whatever) for or against aside, the real question is whether faith is a negative or positive force. It's the BELIEF in God that is the crux of the issue in almost all these arguments, not the ACTUAL existence of God. Whether or not God exists isn't particularly relevant. It's what a belief in God means to those who believe and to those who don't believe.

Well, I would argue that Faith can easily be a negative force; if you accept faith as a reasonable reason to believe something, you could believe anything you want based on Faith. In the mundane, that might not be such an issue, but that all depends on what belief you're holding due to faith. You could easily start justifying more and more outlandish and possibly dangerous beliefs on faith, since if you accept faith as a reasonable thing to excuse a belief, you could believe whatever you wanted and screw what the evidence says.

Here's the question I put to you;
Faith is belief without evidence. Faith is the acceptance of something as true without a good or rational reason.
Why, then, would you argue that faith is a virtue? Why believe something without a good reason?


Sorry, I obviously obfuscated my question behind a wall o' text.  I'm not arguing the question has a fundamental importance, I' saying I feel it doesn't overly impact one's life.  The nature of Dark Matter is a big question to do with the nature of our universe, but it has no effect on my life.  Whether I have clean clothes or not is one of the tiniest questions to do with the nature of our universe but has a massive impact on my life. 

Do you think the existence or otherwise of God would have more impact on your day to day life than a broken fridge?  If so, why? 

Well, I don't mean to dodge the question, but that would depend entirely on what kind of God (if any) was proven to exist. If a non-interventionist God or the absence of God was somehow proven beyond a shadow of a doubt...not much in my personal life would change (Though I imagine some religious peoples entire worldview would come crumbling down around them). If a god was proven and it was shown that he was actively causing harm, then I might go out of my way to try and minimise those effects. A losing battle? Yeah, sure. But there's a difference between me stopping on my way somewhere to do something good, and me thinking "Right, fuck that guy" and dropping everything to stop whatever bullshit I know he has planned.
If it's a God that has for whatever reason decided to fuck with me, then I would imagine it would affect how I go about my life rather differently too. It would all depend on what kind of God it was and what his / her aims were.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #109 on: March 22, 2017, 02:05:59 AM »
Well, I would argue that Faith can easily be a negative force; if you accept faith as a reasonable reason to believe something, you could believe anything you want based on Faith. In the mundane, that might not be such an issue, but that all depends on what belief you're holding due to faith. You could easily start justifying more and more outlandish and possibly dangerous beliefs on faith, since if you accept faith as a reasonable thing to excuse a belief, you could believe whatever you wanted and screw what the evidence says.

Here's the question I put to you;
Faith is belief without evidence. Faith is the acceptance of something as true without a good or rational reason.
Why, then, would you argue that faith is a virtue? Why believe something without a good reason?

Okay, so putting aside faith in God, what about the faith in the trustworthiness of a loved one? What about faith that when someone makes you a promise, they will keep it? You don't know for sure whether your loved one can be trusted until after the fact. You don't know for sure whether the promise will be kept until it has either kept or been broken.

But if you refuse to trust your loved one because you don't know whether you can trust them, if you refuse to make or accept any promises because you don't know they can or will be kept, you're going to look around one day and find yourself alone and friendless.

We all have a little trust in our lives, maybe not in God, but in something(s) or someone(s) else. Trust is belief without proof.

If A=X, and B=X, math and science tell us that A=B.

So I ask you: Is trust then a vice?

EDIT: I'm headed to bed now. I'll check in when I can tomorrow.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 02:07:25 AM by LostInTheMist »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #110 on: March 22, 2017, 02:23:08 AM »
Okay, so putting aside faith in God, what about the faith in the trustworthiness of a loved one? What about faith that when someone makes you a promise, they will keep it? You don't know for sure whether your loved one can be trusted until after the fact. You don't know for sure whether the promise will be kept until it has either kept or been broken.

Ah, this is where you start getting into those tricksy word games that I mentioned earlier. Words have different definitions for different contexts, after all, and what people mean by "Faith in a loved one" isn't necessarily the same as what they mean when they say "Faith in God."

Faith has two main definitions:

1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
2. Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.

When speaking about religion, we're talking about Definition 2, which outright states "without proof."
When speaking about a Loved One, we're talking about Definition 1, where you may well have justification for your "Faith." EG, "I have faith that my brother will show up to bail me out of prison; he's never let me down before." In this context, it is entirely possible to trust somebody for good reason, them having earned it. In the context of religion, that faith is rarely based on anything of the sort.
Trying to conflate the two ignores the fact that words have different meanings...like I said in a previous post of mine.


We all have a little trust in our lives, maybe not in God, but in something(s) or someone(s) else. Trust is belief without proof.

No, it isn't. You can trust somebody based on past experience and future expectation. I trust my girlfriend because I know her. She has never hurt me before, she knows what it feels like to have trust betrayed, and I have no reason to doubt her sincerity when she tells me that she loves me. Therefore, I trust her. Can I be wrong? Absolutely. But I highly doubt you have the same level of direct experience with God.
Again. Words have different meanings in different contexts, and trying to conflate them is either simply ignorant or - at its worst - dishonest.


So I ask you: Is trust then a vice?

So I turn the question back on you.

Is Faith - the definition of faith I am talking about, in the context of religion rather than interpersonal connections - a virtue?

Because all you tried to do is dodge the question by playing with definitions. No.
Trust in your loved ones is not a vice, because you have a reason to trust them. It's a colloquial meaning of the word "Faith," and for the record, I personally don't use that word when talking about my loved ones. I always say "I trust you," and I have never once said "I have faith in you."

So I ask again. Is faith - using the contextual definition of "Belief using spiritual conviction rather than evidence in the context of religion" - a virtue?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #111 on: March 22, 2017, 02:31:53 AM »
All your examples are type two. Your girlfriend may well never hurt you, but you have no proof. Which, as you say, is a characteristic of definition two. I think you're finding word games where none exist.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #112 on: March 22, 2017, 02:36:09 AM »
All your examples are type two. Your girlfriend may well never hurt you, but you have no proof. Which, as you say, is a characteristic of definition two. I think you're finding word games where none exist.

No, I disagree. Partly because Definition 2 specifically says "Religious doctrine." But that's splitting hairs.
I can use past experience as evidence enough for future expectation. My girlfriend has never hurt me before, so it is reasonable to assume for the moment that she deserves my trust.

However, can you point to anything in the past that could show you that a God has been demonstrated to exist?

If not, then they're blatantly not the same thing. I can see, touch, taste, feel and smell my girlfriend. I have verifiable evidence that she exists, and that she has never hurt me in the past. I have no evidence available to me that she has betrayed my trust or lied to me in any meaningful way, so therefore I can assume for the time being that I can continue to trust her. If evidence comes to light that she has, indeed, betrayed my trust in some way then that trust will become more tentative. If i walked in on her fucking my best friend, then that would be pretty good evidence that I couldn't trust her, so I would therefore stop trusting her.

I think you're trying to conflate these two definitions, when they are very different circumstances.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #113 on: March 22, 2017, 02:43:28 AM »
Lost in the mist has already provided an example. When he was travelling, he had an experience that he believes was from God. If he has more while praying, that will be strengthened. If he starts having that same experience whenever he eats a sandwich his belief that it was caused by God will be weakened.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #114 on: March 22, 2017, 02:45:19 AM »
Further (sorry, phone makes editing hard) you don't actually answer the challenge. You may have a justified belief but you have no proof which was my original objection.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #115 on: March 22, 2017, 02:52:02 AM »
Lost in the mist has already provided an example. When he was travelling, he had an experience that he believes was from God. If he has more while praying, that will be strengthened. If he starts having that same experience whenever he eats a sandwich his belief that it was caused by God will be weakened.

Except, no. I have evidence that the person who was there for me when I was vulnerable was, in fact, my girlfriend and that she is real. I can point to her and say "Here she is," and provide evidence that it was her who did the things that earned my trust.
Lost does not have evidence that his vision was provided by God, he doesn't have evidence that God even exists, and he has no evidence that praying caused the vision. Correlation does not equal causation, after all.

I have evidence that my girlfriend exists and that she is the one that is there for me if I need it. Lost has already admitted that he has no such evidence for his God.

Therefore, they use two different definitions of faith.

However.

I do not use "Faith" when I talk about my girlfriend. I use the word "Trust," because she has demonstrated herself to be trustworthy through her actions. Lost has Faith, because he has no evidence that it was a God who caused the visions, and believes it anyway. He has said as much.

So my trust in my girlfriend and his faith in God are two entirely different things, not least of all because I can demonstrate that my girlfriend actually exists and did the things that I am ascribing to her, unlike Lost.


Further (sorry, phone makes editing hard) you don't actually answer the challenge. You may have a justified belief but you have no proof which was my original objection.

Yes, I do. My proof that I can trust her is her previous actions demonstrating that she can be trusted. I have jumped up and down every day for the past five years, and every single time, I have come back down to Earth. Therefore, I have evidence enough to assume that if I were to jump up and down right now, I would still come down. Could I be wrong? absolutely! If, hypothetically, there is a God and he switched off Gravity, I would not come down. But until that happens, my belief is still justified by the available evidence.

Lost's, however, by his own admission is not.


Definition of Evidence:
"The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid."

My GF:
The proposition: My Girlfriend has demonstrated herself to be worthy of my trust.
Available Body of Facts: Her past actions.
Conclusion: Based on her past actions, the proposition is true. This conclusion is subject to change.

Lost's Vision:
The Proposition: His Vision was caused by God
Available Body of Facts: None pertaining to the cause of his vision.
Conclusion: God did it!


Therefore, the comparison of my trust in my GF and his faith in God is a false analogy.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 02:55:03 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #116 on: March 22, 2017, 03:01:13 AM »
Hmmmm. Answer is longer than I want to do on my phone. In brief it seems from what you've said that you're trying to claim a difference in kind between your belief in your girlfriend's fidelity and losts faith in God. I think your justification for doing that is exceptionally weak. Further, you still don't address the question of proof, merely talking more about evidence.  Why is it so hard to simply say "yes, there are some things I accept as true despite not being able to prove them." I think this is one of the major things that atheists do (and I'm in no way claiming that failures are one sided) to make dialogues like this fruitless. You don't have solid proof for everything and it's not the appropriate word for the reasons you have for every belief. A refusal to accept that just means the conversation stalls at this point.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #117 on: March 22, 2017, 03:11:27 AM »
I think your justification for doing that is exceptionally weak.

I think you're wrong. Ok, so, your word against mine. Why is it weak? What part of my reasoning is faulty or weak? That isn't meant to be aggressive, I am genuinely asking so that if you are correct, I can address it.


Further, you still don't address the question of proof, merely talking more about evidence.

I think you don't know what Proof actually means. The definition of Proof is:
"Evidence or argument establishing a fact or the truth of a statement."

Oh look, I guess I HAVE been doing that all along. I've provided evidence, along with an argument for why I trust my girlfriend. Therefore, your request for Proof has been satisfied.


Why is it so hard to simply say "yes, there are some things I accept as true despite not being able to prove them."

Except I do have a reasonable degree of evidence and proof for trusting my girlfriend. I don't accept anything as true without some level of evidence or proof. Sometimes it's just as simple as "Well, people have dogs and there's no reason to lie about having a dog that I know about, so sure, I'll accept that you have a dog, assuming that no evidence of an deceit comes to light."
It's still "Proof," which is an argument supported by some evidence.


I think this is one of the major things that atheists do (and I'm in no way claiming that failures are one sided) to make dialogues like this fruitless. You don't have solid proof for everything and it's not the appropriate word for the reasons you have for every belief. A refusal to accept that just means the conversation stalls at this point.

Except "Atheist" just means "Disbelief in God." If you are trying to persuade somebody that God exists, then you have to demonstrate it to them. Pointing to something else and saying "But you accept that without evidence!" isn't evidence for your position, even if it is true. And just playing these word games, Kythia, is what drags the conversation to a halt. My initial question was "Why would you accept on Faith that these visions were caused by God?" I then answered why I trust my girlfriend with evidence and proof (Yes, I did, and no matter how many times you claim I didn't, by the definitions of the word I did), and yet my original question remains unanswered, with the thread instead being devoted to word games as you seemingly attempt to trip me up with definitions.

I am more than happy to say that I don't know. But when it comes to trusting my girlfriend, I have a reasonable, justified belief backed up by proof and evidence. You yourself said that I have a justified belief.
Ok. So.
What is the justification for concluding that Lost's vision came from God?


Whatever you say, Kythia, I have met your requests for evidence and proof, according to the definitions of the words.

Unless you have a different definition for the word "proof?" If so, please give it to me so I understand what you're asking for.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 03:12:32 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #118 on: March 22, 2017, 06:52:46 AM »
That's nonsense Vergil and well you know it. You can't genuinely be equating evidence with proof. If so, I can predict lottery numbers. As proof I submit that a seven will be drawn on Saturday. If it is you have evidence towards my claim and by your logic therefore have proof of my claim. Further, if I pray to God that it rains tomorrow and it does you have proof of God. AND proof of evil space aliens who try to trick people in to thinking theres a god through their weather control ways. After all, you have evidence for both positions, despite them being mutually exclusive.

You can't seriously be claiming that a statement you have evidence for us proven. Surely.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #119 on: March 22, 2017, 07:43:35 AM »
That's nonsense Vergil and well you know it. You can't genuinely be equating evidence with proof. If so, I can predict lottery numbers. As proof I submit that a seven will be drawn on Saturday. If it is you have evidence towards my claim and by your logic therefore have proof of my claim. Further, if I pray to God that it rains tomorrow and it does you have proof of God. AND proof of evil space aliens who try to trick people in to thinking theres a god through their weather control ways. After all, you have evidence for both positions, despite them being mutually exclusive.

You can't seriously be claiming that a statement you have evidence for us proven. Surely.


Pardon my French, but you know full well that all of that is complete poppycock.

You don't know what "Proof" means.

Let's go through them.

Dictionary.com
1. evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.
2. anything serving as such evidence:

Oxford Dictionary.
1. Mass Noun: Evidence or argument establishing a fact or the truth of a statement.
‘you will be asked to give proof of your identity’
Count noun: ‘this is not a proof for the existence of God’

Merriam-Webster.
a :  the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact
b :  the process or an instance of establishing the validity of a statement especially by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning

The Free Dictionary.
1. The evidence or argument that compels the mind to accept an assertion as true.
2.
a. The validation of a proposition by application of specified rules, as of induction or deduction, to assumptions, axioms, and sequentially derived conclusions.
b. A statement or argument used in such a validation.
3.
a. Convincing or persuasive demonstration: was asked for proof of his identity; an employment history that was proof of her dependability.
b. The state of being convinced or persuaded by consideration of evidence.

The Business Dictionary.
1. General: Evidence that establishes existence or truth (or non-existence or untruth) of a fact to the satisfaction of an authority (such as a court) or according to the accepted standards.
[Skipping 2 since it covers alcohol]
3. Law: Evidence on which the determination of the judgment of a court case is based. Unlike a mathematical-proof (based on logical evidence) or scientific proof (based on empirical evidence), a legal proof is based on the credibility of a document or witness.

Cambridge Dictionary.
A fact or piece of information that shows that something exists or is true
[The others don't apply in this situation]

Vocabulary.com.
Proof is the evidence that shows something is true or valid. When you show the logical steps that take you from your hypothesis that the world is round to the conclusion that it is, you're formulating a proof.

Macmillan Dictionary.
1. [COUNTABLE/UNCOUNTABLE] information or evidence that shows that something is definitely true or definitely exists


If you disagree with these definitions and cannot give me either a definition or a source for your assertion that these definitions are incorrect, you have to accept that you are wrong.


You can't genuinely be equating evidence with proof.

Well, considering the definition of Proof involves the word "Evidence," and Proof and Evidence are listed as synonyms in some thesauruses...


If so, I can predict lottery numbers. As proof I submit that a seven will be drawn on Saturday. If it is you have evidence towards my claim and by your logic therefore have proof of my claim.

No, that is either a strawman, or a misunderstanding of what I am saying.
Since the Lottery is a random drawing, that does not constitute evidence. Each "Roll," as it were, is its own occurrence and previous occurrences have no influence on it because they are each their own independent instances in a random system. If, however, the seven was weighted to allow for greater chance of it turning up, then maybe you would have evidence that the 7 was more likely to come up.

My girlfriend, however, is not a completely isolated instance every time. She remains the same person, with the same cognitive functions and the same variables - personality, morals, etc etc - influencing her all the way through. She is not several independent coin flips unconnected from each other, she is the same "Instance" all the way through. Variables may change that make her cheating on me more or less likely, but past behaviour is as good an indicator of future behaviour as I am going to get without a TARDIS because she is the same "Instance" in the past as she will be in the future. My evidence is that she has proven to be trustworthy in the past, and since she is presumably the same person now as she was then, it is not unreasonable to deduce that she is trustworthy now, since no variables I am aware of have been changed. However, since the lottery numbers are separate, independent instances each time with no connection to each other, this is a horrible analogy and you well know it.


Further, if I pray to God that it rains tomorrow and it does you have proof of God. AND proof of evil space aliens who try to trick people in to thinking theres a god through their weather control ways. After all, you have evidence for both positions, despite them being mutually exclusive.

Poppycock. Causation does not equal causation. I have evidence that my girlfriend is the one who did not betray my confidence and my trust. Therefore, I have evidence that I can trust her with sensitive information. You have no evidence that you praying has a causal link to the rain. Again, a horrible analogy that doesn't apply.


You can't seriously be claiming that a statement you have evidence for us proven. Surely.

Surely you can't be claiming that you are wrong and the dictionary definition of the word is correct. Surely you can't seriously be claiming that proof does not require evidence when the dictionary says otherwise. Surely.
But for the record, no, I'm not. That is a strawman.
I am saying that a belief I have evidence for is more reasonable to hold than a belief that I have no evidence for. And I am saying that evidence is part of having proof, because what else would you build your argument on other than evidence?





Let me put it this way. This all stems from you both misunderstanding the definition of "Proof," and attempting to twist my words into false analogies. If you cannot accept that you are wrong about the definition of "Proof," and if you cannot see why your analogies aren't reasonable or accurate, there is no point in me continuing this discussion.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 07:54:56 AM by Vergil Tanner »

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #120 on: March 22, 2017, 08:15:20 AM »
there is no point in me continuing this discussion.

No. I'm inclined to agree. Later.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #121 on: March 22, 2017, 08:33:33 AM »
Indeed. I mean it with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever when I say that I hope you have a good day. :-)
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 08:35:20 AM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #122 on: March 22, 2017, 08:38:00 AM »
As expected, I get up, and the inevitable has happened. I get told by an athiest that effectively, God can't possibly exist and I'm foolish for believing in him.

This is what gets under my skin when I talk with many atheists (and I had hoped you were different, but I now see that was a vain hope.) I don't understand why my faith is such a problem for you. Your lack of faith isn't a problem for me.

I find life is more fulfilling with a spiritual component that works in conjunction and without conflict with my belief in the scientific method. You don't believe you're missing anything by lacking a spiritual component. Both are perfectly valid opinions.

But you also assert that you can't believe in God and believe in Science, which is simply wrong. Since I can and do live a life as such and you haven't tried, I think my opinion on this scale does outweigh yours.

My opinion and beliefs are no less valid than yours, and yet you attempt to present them as such.

I have already conceded your primary point, that I don't have proof of the existence of God. I, however, DO have experiences that suggest to me that God does exist. But my evidence is not valid to you because it doesn't fit in with your world view. You have come in deciding that God cannot exist, and anything that suggests otherwise is automatically invalid.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #123 on: March 22, 2017, 08:56:02 AM »
As expected, I get up, and the inevitable has happened. I get told by an athiest that effectively, God can't possibly exist and I'm foolish for believing in him.

I'm sorry, but can you please point to where I said any such thing?
All I said was that you don't have evidence for him (which you have said) and I don't believe he exists. I never said and nor would I ever say that God can't possibly exist, or that you're an idiot or foolish for believing.
Seriously, if I have said that or accidentally implied it then please show me where and I will clarify that position. Because I certainly didn't intend to say or imply any such thing. I don't know if God exists or if it's possible for it to exist...all I know is that I haven't seen sufficient evidence for me to believe.


This is what gets under my skin when I talk with many atheists (and I had hoped you were different, but I now see that was a vain hope.) I don't understand why my faith is such a problem for you. Your lack of faith isn't a problem for me.

It isn't a problem for me. You posted your opinion on a thread titled "Ask an Atheist," and I analysed and questioned your beliefs. I never once said that they were wrong, just stated my opinion that I believe it's illogical to believe something without evidence. I think you're getting a touch overly defensive here. I never once attacked you personally, or called you any kind of name for believing as you do. I didn't seek you out and batter down your door. You came to an atheistic thread and posted your opinions. Did you not expect for them to be questioned and challenged?


I find life is more fulfilling with a spiritual component that works in conjunction and without conflict with my belief in the scientific method. You don't believe you're missing anything by lacking a spiritual component. Both are perfectly valid opinions.

Cool. I don't care. I just like these debates, and if there is a good reason to believe in God, I would like to hear it. As I've already said; I want to believe as many true and as few false things as possible. God included.


But you also assert that you can't believe in God and believe in Science, which is simply wrong. Since I can and do live a life as such and you haven't tried, I think my opinion on this scale does outweigh yours.

I never said any such thing. I said that employing the scientific method for everything except one thing leads to cognitive dissonance. I would never state that you can't believe in God and be a scientist, since that is objectively, demonstrably incorrect. I think that you're massively misunderstanding my position here.


My opinion and beliefs are no less valid than yours, and yet you attempt to present them as such.

Eeeeh, validity is a difficult thing. But I will state that I have only questioned your beliefs and your reasons to believe because I wish to understand, and raised objections to your train of thought. That is not stating that yours is less "valid," just that I disagree. Disagreement is not the same as invalidating your opinion. Criticism of the idea is not criticism of the person.


I have already conceded your primary point, that I don't have proof of the existence of God. I, however, DO have experiences that suggest to me that God does exist. But my evidence is not valid to you because it doesn't fit in with your world view.

No, it isn't valid to me because you cannot demonstrate to me that the cause was God, or that the experience even happened (from my point of view; I'm not saying you didn't experience it, just that for all I know, you could be making it up hypothetically speaking).


You have come in deciding that God cannot exist, and anything that suggests otherwise is automatically invalid.

No.

No no no.

No no no no no.

No no no no no no no.

No no no no no no no no no.

Should I add any more No's?

I have never once said that God is impossible. Please, direct me to the part of any of my posts where I said that God was impossible. I have never, nor will ever say that, because I don't know. I've said that you don't have good enough evidence to convince me, yes, but that isn't the same as saying that you are wrong or that your proposition is impossible. So please, do not presume to tell me my position on the issue.

I will outline my position right here and now:

I am an Agnostic Atheist.

That is, when somebody says "Some God Exists," I say "I do not believe you, can I see your evidence?" As of yet, nobody has shown me evidence that God exists, so I do not believe in his/her/their existence.
However, when somebody says "No Gods Exist," I say "I do not believe you; how can you know that? Can I see your evidence?" Nobody has demonstrated to me that no gods could possibly exist, so I do not positively believe that no Gods exist or can exist. I am an atheist because I do not accept the existence of God, but nor do I automatically assume the opposite to be correct.

Think of it this way;

There is a gumball jar, filled with gumballs. The number inside it is either Even (God) or Odd (Not God). You say "The number of Gumballs is Even." I say "I don't believe you."Does that mean I automatically believe that the number of Gumballs is odd? Of course not.

I have never once said that no gods could possibly exist. And if you have inferred that, then you were mistaken, because I never intentionally implied any such thing.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #124 on: March 26, 2017, 06:00:51 PM »
I think if nothing else, from this page's conversation, it can safely be said that despite all the protestations, there is a negative consequence to irrational faith, and that is (at a minimum) how it affects a person's ability to be intellectually honest with themselves and others. I've seen nothing but word games and false accusations being tossed around by one side and it's genuinely troubling. This is why I can't accept that faith can truly be completely benign. I'd be open to evidence to the contrary of course, but really, what reason is there to think there is or ever will be any?

Verg, man, you are a trooper. Props. You've got the patience of a saint, pun most definitely intended.

I offer a counter-proposal to the idea that the mere belief in god is a good thing even if there is a conscious acknowledgment that it isn't necessarily so or whether it even matters in the end if it is true: Why not emancipate ourselves from this superstition and strengthen ourselves emotionally and intellectually instead of regressing to the easiest possible solution available to the lowest common denominator? It's basically the difference between actually treating a wound and merely putting a band-aid on it. You're not actually getting rid of the problem otherwise, just trying to suppress the symptoms but at the same time falling prey to new, potentially worse ones.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 07:50:15 PM by Mathim »

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #125 on: March 26, 2017, 08:14:01 PM »
Why not emancipate ourselves from this superstition and strengthen ourselves emotionally and intellectually instead of regressing to the easiest possible solution available to the lowest common denominator?

And the possibility that faith may actually provide emotional and intellectual strength should just be dismissed? Just because something doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work for anyone. There are a lot of people who derive emotional strength from the idea that there is a reason for everything that happens, or that it's all part of a plan.

Even if God doesn't exist, that doesn't mean that there is no value in religion. My church gets together and collects food for the poor, works at our local homeless shelter, drives to Mexico and builds houses, has a free meal weekly for all who wish it, and none of these require the recipients to pay anything or come to a service, or even believe in God.

I also object to the use of the word "superstition" to describe religion.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #126 on: March 26, 2017, 11:36:22 PM »
And the possibility that faith may actually provide emotional and intellectual strength should just be dismissed

Well, I would argue that any strength built upon something that cannot be shown to be true is tenuous at best, but that's just my personal opinion. We are not dismissing its use as a crutch for people who need it, we are questioning its accuracy regarding the nature of reality; obviously, after all, you can make do without it.


Just because something doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work for anyone. There are a lot of people who derive emotional strength from the idea that there is a reason for everything that happens, or that it's all part of a plan.

And we're not denying that some people view it that way. We're just saying that if religion had never been invented, people would still get their comfort in other ways. See, if you'd never been told that there was some great plan to it all, you wouldn't have that sense of loss you feel when you realise that no, there probably isn't (from what we can tell). It's also an idea that is more abhorrent when you look into it, and one that also contradicts the idea of Free Will, when you start thinking about it...and I find no comfort in the idea that all of my actions have been preordained by some invisible Sky Daddy. Or that if I don't follow the rules to the letter, I will be burned in hell for all eternity.
I mean...comfort is all well and good, but are you truly comforted thinking that a place like Hell exists?


Even if God doesn't exist, that doesn't mean that there is no value in religion. My church gets together and collects food for the poor, works at our local homeless shelter, drives to Mexico and builds houses, has a free meal weekly for all who wish it, and none of these require the recipients to pay anything or come to a service, or even believe in God.

But why do you need religion to do that? Surely that is just good people coming together to do a good thing. I can list a good dozen or so organisations off the top of my head that do the same thing, but without religion involved in any way shape or form. You don't need religion to do that, so...I don't get your argument here.

Also, the Catholic Church also supported the Nazi's during WW2 and is preaching in AIDS ridden countries not to use condoms. So there's that.
Not trying to say that religion is inherently evil, just that if you want to take credit for the good, you have to take the rap for the bad, too.


I also object to the use of the word "superstition" to describe religion.

Definition for Superstition:

- Excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural.
Does that not describe your belief that your visions came from God, despite not having any testable evidence? And since you revere God, I assume, that means you revere the supernatural.

- A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.
This definition is one that I think applies to your religion, but I can see why you would object to it, of course.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #127 on: March 27, 2017, 12:48:17 AM »
Well, I would argue that any strength built upon something that cannot be shown to be true is tenuous at best, but that's just my personal opinion. We are not dismissing its use as a crutch for people who need it, we are questioning its accuracy regarding the nature of reality; obviously, after all, you can make do without it.

But in what way is accuracy important in this case? It's not like people are going out and throwing themselves off towers  or jumping out in front of busses believing God will save them. (The Bible is very specific that that's not how it works, even for Jesus.)

I guess this comes down to my continuing belief that the realm of science and religion are two separate things that can coexist, which is a definition you reject. We've gone over that, and as I have said, seeing as I find they do coexist without a problem for me, that would seem to suggest they can. Yes, I can't test the existence or non-existence of God/Heaven/Angels, etc. But again, matters of faith reside in a realm outside of science. You either believe or you don't, and there's no testing that can be done.

This is splitting hairs and I hesitate to do it, but you note that scientists do tend to point out that there's nothing that can be absolutely proven. I mean, the theory of gravity used to fit all our observations, and it was very close, particularly for very large objects. Then it turned out that the theory of relativity was more accurate, but it turns out that breaks down in regions of high gravity and on a sub-atomic level, and we're working on a grand unified theory. Please do not twist this into my saying that these things are "only theories". I know the difference between "theory" in the common parlance and "theory" in science. Nor am I saying that I don't believe in the theory of evolution. I'm just pointing out that when you ask a real scientist, point blank, "has [blank] been proven yet", they usually will respond with "it fits all available data" or something along those lines. (This annoys me, because it allows people to doubt things that are clearly accurate, but I understand why scientist balk at stating that something is the absolute truth.)

And we're not denying that some people view it that way. We're just saying that if religion had never been invented, people would still get their comfort in other ways. See, if you'd never been told that there was some great plan to it all, you wouldn't have that sense of loss you feel when you realise that no, there probably isn't (from what we can tell). It's also an idea that is more abhorrent when you look into it, and one that also contradicts the idea of Free Will, when you start thinking about it...and I find no comfort in the idea that all of my actions have been preordained by some invisible Sky Daddy. Or that if I don't follow the rules to the letter, I will be burned in hell for all eternity.
I mean...comfort is all well and good, but are you truly comforted thinking that a place like Hell exists?

You don't have to follow the rules to the letter. In fact, you don't have to follow any of the rules. If you ask for forgiveness it is granted you, though that does require some belief in religion.

I don't believe in hell anyway, so... *shrugs*

But why do you need religion to do that? Surely that is just good people coming together to do a good thing. I can list a good dozen or so organisations off the top of my head that do the same thing, but without religion involved in any way shape or form. You don't need religion to do that, so...I don't get your argument here.

Also, the Catholic Church also supported the Nazi's during WW2 and is preaching in AIDS ridden countries not to use condoms. So there's that.
Not trying to say that religion is inherently evil, just that if you want to take credit for the good, you have to take the rap for the bad, too.

Part 1: You don't need religion to do that, but it is easier to volunteer with organizations as a group than solo. (It's harder to blow off your commitments too, when you're inclined if you know the rest of the group is counting on you.) I appreciate that when I want to do some community service I can go down to my church and find opportunities with a large(ish) group of people who want to go bag frozen food for "Food For Lane County", or something. I'm not someone who is comfortable pushing my religion on anyone, so I make sure that it's an entirely secular event before I get involved.

Part 2: I'm not a Catholic. There's a very big difference between Catholics and Protestants, though all of them are Christians. (Yes, our prayers mention the "holy catholic church" but it doesn't mean "Catholic".) And yes, the Protestant Church has done some bad stuff too. I am of the belief that the good outweighs the bad, but that comes down to a moral judgment, and is and opinion.

Definition for Superstition:

- Excessively credulous belief in and reverence for the supernatural.
Does that not describe your belief that your visions came from God, despite not having any testable evidence? And since you revere God, I assume, that means you revere the supernatural.

- A widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.
This definition is one that I think applies to your religion, but I can see why you would object to it, of course.

I understand why you'd call my belief "excessively credulous". This is one that just gets into bandying definitions and words around, what is the meaning of one thing or the other. I don't consider faith to be "excessively credulous" (credulous having some negative connotations), but I can see why that would be. (Also "revering the supernatural"... theologically speaking, "supernatural" is a bit of a different bag from God, but yeah... that gets into some complicated theology that I don't think I'm really qualified to get into.)

TL;DR: I think this is getting into "agree to disagree" territory. I believe that religion is a positive force in society, or at least it has been a positive force in my life and the lives of billions of others. You believe that religion is a negative force in society, and it has had a negative impact on the life of millions of others. (Not sure what impact it has had on you, but I can understand if it has had an impact on you.)

Probably, to some extent we're both right. I believe that the positive has outweighed the negative, you believe the other way around, and there's no real measurable way to determine the impact, since so much of it is subjective.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #128 on: March 27, 2017, 01:00:58 AM »
I guess this comes down to my continuing belief that the realm of science and religion are two separate things that can coexist, which is a definition you reject. We've gone over that, and as I have said, seeing as I find they do coexist without a problem for me, that would seem to suggest they can. Yes, I can't test the existence or non-existence of God/Heaven/Angels, etc. But again, matters of faith reside in a realm outside of science. You either believe or you don't, and there's no testing that can be done.

I will state again; I never said that they can't coexist. I merely rejected your assertion that they do not overlap; that they address two different questions.
But once again, I will ask; if you cannot test the existence of a thing, why would you believe that that thing exists? Faith does indeed exist in a realm outside of science, because faith is the rejection of the scientific method for at least one thing...thereby leading to the cognitive dissonance that I earlier mentioned. "I'm going to test all my beliefs...except this one."


This is splitting hairs and I hesitate to do it, but you note that scientists do tend to point out that there's nothing that can be absolutely proven. I mean, the theory of gravity used to fit all our observations, and it was very close, particularly for very large objects. Then it turned out that the theory of relativity was more accurate, but it turns out that breaks down in regions of high gravity and on a sub-atomic level, and we're working on a grand unified theory. Please do not twist this into my saying that these things are "only theories". I know the difference between "theory" in the common parlance and "theory" in science. Nor am I saying that I don't believe in the theory of evolution. I'm just pointing out that when you ask a real scientist, point blank, "has [blank] been proven yet", they usually will respond with "it fits all available data" or something along those lines. (This annoys me, because it allows people to doubt things that are clearly accurate, but I understand why scientist balk at stating that something is the absolute truth.)

They do this because if there was some unknown factor that was skewing the results, then by definition, it would be unknown. I fail to see what that has to do with anything here, however; the Theory itself may be incomplete or incorrect, the but the law itself is based on something we know happens (EG, the Law of Gravity is that objects with mass attract; whether our explanation is correct or not, doesn't change the fact that the law is accurate). However, we do not know that God exists and have not tested for it...so why would you believe it? Why accept Faith as a reason, when faith can be used to justify literally anything?


I don't believe in hell anyway, so... *shrugs*

Well, I was using the Royal "You."


Part 1: You don't need religion to do that, but it is easier to volunteer with organizations as a group than solo. (It's harder to blow off your commitments too, when you're inclined if you know the rest of the group is counting on you.) I appreciate that when I want to do some community service I can go down to my church and find opportunities with a large(ish) group of people who want to go bag frozen food for "Food For Lane County", or something. I'm not someone who is comfortable pushing my religion on anyone, so I make sure that it's an entirely secular event before I get involved.

But again, that isn't to do with religion. If these people wanted to do this and there was no church organising it, then somebody else would come along and do just that. Again, I can give you a list of secular, non-religious groups that do this exact thing. So again...that "Good" isn't a case of religion doing good, it's a case of people who happen to be religious doing good.


Part 2: I'm not a Catholic. There's a very big difference between Catholics and Protestants, though all of them are Christians. (Yes, our prayers mention the "holy catholic church" but it doesn't mean "Catholic".) And yes, the Protestant Church has done some bad stuff too. I am of the belief that the good outweighs the bad, but that comes down to a moral judgment, and is and opinion.

Well, I more meant "Religion as a whole." You failed to specify a religion, so I took religion as a whole. I think that, on balance, there is not really any good thing that religion does for people that cannot be achieved by secular means, and plenty of bad that is achieved primarily through religious motivation. But that is just an opinion.


theologically speaking, "supernatural" is a bit of a different bag from God, but yeah... that gets into some complicated theology that I don't think I'm really qualified to get into.)

Well, is it part of the natural world? If it created the natural world, then probably not, no; it has to be outside of the natural world. Therefore, supernatural.


TL;DR: I think this is getting into "agree to disagree" territory. I believe that religion is a positive force in society, or at least it has been a positive force in my life and the lives of billions of others. You believe that religion is a negative force in society, and it has had a negative impact on the life of millions of others. (Not sure what impact it has had on you, but I can understand if it has had an impact on you.)

Probably, to some extent we're both right. I believe that the positive has outweighed the negative, you believe the other way around, and there's no real measurable way to determine the impact, since so much of it is subjective.

I have no issue saying that religion has done good. But it has also done a lot of bad, and has a tendency to infect whatever it touches with a lot of negative baggage. Take the AA, for example; Alcoholics Anonymous is a good idea, but it cynically exploits vulnerable people into accepting a "Higher Power" as a way to blame their addictions on somebody else, and then rebuilds their entire support system around that "Higher Power." Yeah, let's tell a bunch of addicts that they have no power and have to rely on other people to change their lives. That's REALLY bloody empowering, isn't it? Then there's the fact that religion tends to stick its nose in other peoples business a LOT, and when it can, tends to force its regressive ideas down peoples throats.
My general stance is that anything positive from religion can be achieved without religion...and religion has too much blood on its hands to ever be called a force for good (*cough* Paedophiles *unconvincingcough* )

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #129 on: March 27, 2017, 02:34:26 AM »
Take the AA, for example; Alcoholics Anonymous is a good idea, but it cynically exploits vulnerable people into accepting a "Higher Power" as a way to blame their addictions on somebody else, and then rebuilds their entire support system around that "Higher Power." Yeah, let's tell a bunch of addicts that they have no power and have to rely on other people to change their lives. That's REALLY bloody empowering, isn't it?

Okay, that just got a little personal.

Are you a member of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Because I am, and you are completely wrong about it.

For one thing, we don't blame our addictions on God or anyone else. We accept that we are powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. (That's step 1.)

We accept that a "higher power" can restore us to sanity, but they are very specific that this higher power need not be God. (One of the early founders was an atheist, and he made sure that they stated "higher power", rather than anything specifically religious.) You can find his story in the "Pioneers of A.A." in the back of the big book. The "Higher Power" doesn't have to be anything supernatural. For a lot of people the "Higher Power" is just the group in general.

There are even meetings designed specifically for atheists and/or agnostics, that include doubts that spirituality will assist in the recovery. These groups also do not include any opening or closing prayers. Mine is not one of these, but the group meetings I go to include no opening prayer, but rather a reading of the 12 steps and 12 traditions, and then there is a closing prayer which is optional. In between we share our experiences about alcohol around a topic chosen by whoever is running the meeting on that occasion. About a quarter of the group leaves before the closing prayer.

For clarity's sake, I was a believer before I went into A.A.

To be extra clear, I'm not offended that you don't understand A.A.; as very few people who are not members bother to learn about it. However... it is offensive that you stated outright lies* about an organization, the SOLE PURPOSE of which is to keep people alive who would otherwise be dead. If not for A.A., I might well be dead by now. Many other members, all of whom are near and dear to my heart (including agnostics and atheists) would absolutely be dead right now. As someone who trusts science and absolute fact above all else, you really should make sure that what you are presenting as facts are actually facts.

EDIT: *I do not believe these were intentional lies, but you did present as fact things that simply are not true.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 02:36:40 AM by LostInTheMist »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #130 on: March 27, 2017, 02:54:53 AM »
Okay, that just got a little personal.

Are you a member of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Because I am, and you are completely wrong about it.

For one thing, we don't blame our addictions on God or anyone else. We accept that we are powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. (That's step 1.)

We accept that a "higher power" can restore us to sanity, but they are very specific that this higher power need not be God. (One of the early founders was an atheist, and he made sure that they stated "higher power", rather than anything specifically religious.) You can find his story in the "Pioneers of A.A." in the back of the big book. The "Higher Power" doesn't have to be anything supernatural. For a lot of people the "Higher Power" is just the group in general.

Personally, no, but I'm very good friends with somebody who did go through that process. Hang on...

The Official AA Site.

Their Twelve Steps, as listed on the official site.

1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5) Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

But of course, the 12 Steps are in no way related to the AA, I'm sure.

Here's the thing; different groups of the AA operate in different ways, of course, but the groups my friend went to all kind of pressured him into taking those twelve steps. Not officially, but there was a lot of Social Pressure to do so. Now that probably isn't true for every group, but to say that the AA has no religious overtones whatsoever when their officially endorsed 12 Steps specifically mention God, Prayer and a Higher Power? Yeah. That is demonstrably false.

Also, you're wrong about the origins; the AA was originally created by the Evangelical "Oxford Group." Not that the origins have anything to do with the current state of the organisation, of course, but I felt like clarifying that part before moving on.


To be extra clear, I'm not offended that you don't understand A.A.; as very few people who are not members bother to learn about it. However... it is offensive that you stated outright lies* about an organization,

I never lied. The Twelve Steps specifically mention God, Prayer and Faith, and I have a number of other criticisms of the group as a whole. For example, one never "finishes" the Steps, and according to my friend, if somebody dropped out (at least in his group), the Steps didn't fail, they failed the Steps. There's also the case of certain groups becoming very dysfunctional with people abusing their power and "Thirteenth Stepping" occurring because of the fractious, disorganised nature of the organisation as a whole, and the fact that Twelve Step Programs in general - it is suggested by certain studies - has only a roughly 5-10% Success Rate. Then there's the tendency to blanket all alcoholism as one specific issue rather than a spectrum of different types of alcoholism (For example, it only addresses drinkers who don't have a choice; it doesn't address binge drinkers, hard partiers, or people with mental conditions that drive them into drinking).
It also adheres to the Disease Model of Addiction, which refuses to accept that people can actually be "Cured," and instead treats it as "In Remission." In a lot of ways, this model - and the 12 Steps themselves - can just end up disempowering people rather than building them up again.


the SOLE PURPOSE of which is to keep people alive who would otherwise be dead. If not for A.A., I might well be dead by now. Many other members, all of whom are near and dear to my heart (including agnostics and atheists) would absolutely be dead right now. As someone who trusts science and absolute fact above all else, you really should make sure that what you are presenting as facts are actually facts.

Hey, dude. If it worked for you, then awesome. I'm not here to take away your sobriety, and I'm not saying that the AA should be shut down. Different strokes, different folks.

However, as someone who trusts empirical data and facts, it seems to go against my principals to not look at the issues the AA has and say "Well, this enjoys an unfairly privileged position in society. Why?" Because hey, if it works for some people then cool...but it DOES have religious overtones and it doesn't have any higher success rate than any other anti-alcoholism organisation of the same type, so why is it the go-to program that the courts sent you to for a long time (I think they don't do it any more, though I'm not certain; my friend has been out of it for a while, and I don't live in America, soooo)?

Again. Not here to take it away or shut it down. But regardless of the good work it does, any organisation should be open to criticism, and I will criticise it so long as it is given its unfairly privileged position, especially when a lot of people paint it as the only cure to alcoholism, when that is simply not the case.


For what it's worth, I didn't mean to put down your own experiences with alcoholism, and I think it's awesome that you beat it. Please don't mistake criticism of the organisation as criticism of the people who find sobriety through it.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #131 on: March 27, 2017, 03:02:12 AM »
Let's try to keep this civil.  This thread was going along quite well, but in recent pages it's gotten downright hostile to anyone who might want to 'engage'.

Offline LostInTheMist

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #132 on: March 27, 2017, 03:20:04 AM »
I'm going to offer the following notes, but then I'm gonna leave this conversation, because this is not a comfortable subject for me.

AA Doesn't have an unfairly privileged position in society. I'm not sure where you got that opinion. You can't be forced to attend it by courts (I know at least one person who might still be alive today if they could) and you don't enjoy anonymity of communications.

Note the phrasing of three: "God, as we understood him" need not be an actual God, just whatever "higher power" we looked to in step 2. I'll admit the phrasing is kinda... crappy, and something I'm not particularly happy with. There is a certain reluctance to change the very base of the steps, since, just there are a lot of studies out there that suggest a much higher than 5-10% recovery rate. (You omitted to mention those, but that's okay; it's easy to cherry pick studies to show whatever you want.)

I don't believe there is a way to cure alcoholism. I can't drink in moderation. I have no control once I take that first drink. And this applies to people, however long they've been sober, whether three days, three months, three years, or 30, 40, even 50 years. My issue was binge drinking. If I start drinking again, my issue will again be binge drinking. Because I can go without alcohol for a week or longer at a time. That's why it was so difficult for me to determine what was happening for so long.

You never do finish the steps. The idea is to practice the steps in our daily affairs, to admit when we've done wrong, to remain patient and understanding, basically to avoid behavior that led us to drink in the first place.

I'm sorry that your friend had a bad experience. I can't say anything more than that.

This already has gotten way too far into a deeply personal experience, and I have no desire to continue the conversation. I'm sorry to make a few statements and then retreat, but this conversation no longer serves any useful purpose for me.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #133 on: March 27, 2017, 08:47:13 AM »
All I was saying was that rather than using something as a crutch, we could and should strengthen ourselves in an effort to remove the NEED for a crutch in the first place. That particular point stands whether or not the thing in which a crutch is used is based on anything factual or not. If the only approach to feeling comfort, etc., is failing to acknowledge that there are options beyond an appeal to an imaginary friend, how can anyone possibly look at that objectively and feel it's a harmless, let alone healthy, mentality?

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #134 on: April 14, 2017, 12:16:03 PM »
Hello there!

I consider myself an anti-theist, which to me is an atheist that holds the point of view that religion as a whole is a negative force in our world that should be actively deconstructed.

I'm wondering if you'd mind if I weighed in on your discussions from time to time?  I was tempted to make my own thread, but since you're already established, I thought I'd ask about riding on your coattails. xD Better to save the space for another Trump-thread, there's only like fifty of those up now!

Let me throw you a few softballs while I'm here.

Recently I had an experience with a new co-worker asking about our policy for buying things on the clock, she wanted to purchase a children's bible story book.  I told her it's frowned upon, but everyone does it anyway, so if you really want to no one is going to bat an eyelash; but please don't by that book.

When she asked why I told her those stories are heavily censored, and if you actually give any thought to any of them, their messages are deplorable.  I promised her $20 today if she could tell me a bible story that wasn't "awful" in some way.  She tried to bring up Exodus, which should be laughable; I'd be happy to explain why if it isn't, and when I explained it to her she agreed.  She identified the problem, acknowledged it... and then willfully ignored it.

I insisted that her morals were better than god's.  They are by the very fact that she sees things god does as immoral, so she has a stronger compass with which she judges that.  "No." she replied, like a petulant child.  No reasons.  No arguing against that very simple logic.  Just "No.  God is good.  The bible is moral, and is where morals come from.

So I have several questions for you:

1)Why should you have to edit the perfect word of god to be appropriate for children?

2)Have you had debate or conflict in your flesh and blood life about religion?

3)Have you ever encountered that uncanny disconnect, where they seem to be able to accept the individual premises of an argument, but refuse to accept the larger picture?

4)How does that make you feel?  It makes me feel weird.  Like I'm surrounded by hills-have-eyes mutants, but instead of grotesque monsters, the mutations are on the inside.  That sounds cruel, I don't mean it like that, but it's that level of strange, and it's that glaringly, outputtingly obvious to me.

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #135 on: April 14, 2017, 06:14:45 PM »
Like any other problem, the conflicts within religions have to be acknowledged before anything can be done to rectify them.  Conditioning is carried out in many, many areas of life.  Religion is simply another type of conditioning.  The cognitive dissonance that occurs when religious people are presented with evidence that contradicts their conditioning is very powerful.  I've found that time has to pass before these things can really be tackled--presenting conflicting evidence, then giving it time to be considered, or even subconsciously absorbed.  My own deconversion worked much the same way.  It took time to slowly peel off the layers of conditioning.

And welcome to Elliquiy, Nimbuscloud :)

Offline Strident

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #136 on: April 14, 2017, 06:48:59 PM »
OK, as a theist, I'll take a bite... ;)

"religion as a whole is a negative force in our world that should be actively deconstructed."

Two problems here: first, "religion  as a whole" is far too large a category to be meaningful. You might as well say "language, as a whole".

Second, how do you know what the world might have looked  like over the past few millennia without religion? Would it have been, on the whole, better or worse? You can't possibly know. This is deeply speculative.

What we can say is that the handful of societies which have tried, as you suggested to "actively deconstruct" religion have not been a great success (to put it mildly).

Moving on:
"1)Why should you have to edit the perfect word of god to be appropriate for children?"

First, not all Christians believe the Bible is perfect. "The Word" is Jesus Christ, who became flesh...and it is he who is perfect in most Christian theology.

The most that any Christians would hold to is that the Bible, in its original texts, lacks error. It's not clear why lacking error should necessarily mean it is all, in its entirety, suitable for reading by Children. This can be a) because the text is beyond their level of literacy and understanding and b) may deal with material entirely appropriate for an adult but not for a child.
Also:

"3)Have you ever encountered that uncanny disconnect, where they seem to be able to accept the individual premises of an argument, but refuse to accept the larger picture?"

Yes. I find this often. Particularly with this argument:
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist
2. Objective moral values exist
3. Therefore God exists.

I know very many atheists who routinely assert (1) to be true on a Monday, assert (2) to be true on a Tuesday but never allow themselves to reach the conclusion (3) on any day.

I'm not saying that's true of all atheists all the time...but it's true of a lot, a lot of the time. So your observation is far from a one way street in that regard.
Hello there!

I consider myself an anti-theist, which to me is an atheist that holds the point of view that religion as a whole is a negative force in our world that should be actively deconstructed.

I'm wondering if you'd mind if I weighed in on your discussions from time to time?  I was tempted to make my own thread, but since you're already established, I thought I'd ask about riding on your coattails. xD Better to save the space for another Trump-thread, there's only like fifty of those up now!

Let me throw you a few softballs while I'm here.

Recently I had an experience with a new co-worker asking about our policy for buying things on the clock, she wanted to purchase a children's bible story book.  I told her it's frowned upon, but everyone does it anyway, so if you really want to no one is going to bat an eyelash; but please don't by that book.

When she asked why I told her those stories are heavily censored, and if you actually give any thought to any of them, their messages are deplorable.  I promised her $20 today if she could tell me a bible story that wasn't "awful" in some way.  She tried to bring up Exodus, which should be laughable; I'd be happy to explain why if it isn't, and when I explained it to her she agreed.  She identified the problem, acknowledged it... and then willfully ignored it.

I insisted that her morals were better than god's.  They are by the very fact that she sees things god does as immoral, so she has a stronger compass with which she judges that.  "No." she replied, like a petulant child.  No reasons.  No arguing against that very simple logic.  Just "No.  God is good.  The bible is moral, and is where morals come from.

So I have several questions for you:

1)Why should you have to edit the perfect word of god to be appropriate for children?

2)Have you had debate or conflict in your flesh and blood life about religion?

3)Have you ever encountered that uncanny disconnect, where they seem to be able to accept the individual premises of an argument, but refuse to accept the larger picture?

4)How does that make you feel?  It makes me feel weird.  Like I'm surrounded by hills-have-eyes mutants, but instead of grotesque monsters, the mutations are on the inside.  That sounds cruel, I don't mean it like that, but it's that level of strange, and it's that glaringly, outputtingly obvious to me.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #137 on: April 14, 2017, 07:08:11 PM »

Yes. I find this often. Particularly with this argument:
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist
2. Objective moral values exist
3. Therefore God exists.

I know very many atheists who routinely assert (1) to be true on a Monday, assert (2) to be true on a Tuesday but never allow themselves to reach the conclusion (3) on any day.

I don't know a single atheist who has claimed (1).  If anything, most are trying to assert that 'belief in a deity' (whether one exists or not) is not required for one to be a moral individual.  For the record, I'm not an atheist.

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #138 on: April 14, 2017, 10:07:31 PM »
OK, as a theist, I'll take a bite... ;)

"religion as a whole is a negative force in our world that should be actively deconstructed."

Two problems here: first, "religion  as a whole" is far too large a category to be meaningful. You might as well say "language, as a whole".

Says who? 

That is a false-equivocation, religion and language are vastly different things.  For one thing, language provides a useful function.  I'm aware I've said earlier religion serves useful functions, but 1) you gotta admit that was a sick burn anyway, and 2) all of them could still be provided from a secular opinion... many of them much more effectively, concerning a few issues relating to mental health specifically.

Religion, the broad concept, whether you're a harmless Jane, an obnoxious Westboro, a depressing(to me) Buddhist, or a violent Muslim(yeah I know, not all Muslims), and more specifically the general inclination it has to convince you you know things that you have no way of knowing, and often blatantly contradict what we know about reality, is detrimental in my point of view.  People should see reality for what it is, and if they don't like something they should try to understand and change it, rather than pretend it doesn't exist or won't affect them.

You don't get to just arbitrarily decide what I mean, or instate some weird rule that religions can only be judged on an individual basis.


Second, how do you know what the world might have looked  like over the past few millennia without religion? Would it have been, on the whole, better or worse? You can't possibly know. This is deeply speculative.

What we can say is that the handful of societies which have tried, as you suggested to "actively deconstruct" religion have not been a great success (to put it mildly).

I'm not saying anything about the way religion caused the world to develop.  I've seen Patton Oswald's Sky-cake bit.  I don't have a degree in theology or history, and I'd be poorly informed at best there.  I'm saying that here and now, in the western world, specifically the united states where I'm from, religion is an actively negative force.

Moving on:

Wait, I thought this was ask an atheist?  I mean, feel free I guess, I appreciate the input, but why are you answering me?  I don't even know if this dude wants me here yet.


"1)Why should you have to edit the perfect word of god to be appropriate for children?"

First, not all Christians believe the Bible is perfect. "The Word" is Jesus Christ, who became flesh...and it is he who is perfect in most Christian theology.

The most that any Christians would hold to is that the Bible, in its original texts, lacks error. It's not clear why lacking error should necessarily mean it is all, in its entirety, suitable for reading by Children. This can be a) because the text is beyond their level of literacy and understanding and b) may deal with material entirely appropriate for an adult but not for a child.
Also:

I hate  semantics.  I'm going to ignore the jesus-word bit completely.  I am against all forms of religion, but it's not a black and white thing.  I don't think progressive, scientifically literate christians are right, but I think they're much less dangerous than people who think the world is the 6000 year old center of the universe.

First of all, intentionally or otherwise, you're lying.  There is no surviving copy of the original text, (curious that the almighty wouldn't see fit to preserve his precious, perfect book in his plan), so you don't know if it was perfect or not.  Second of all, when hell is on the line, any deity who doesn't make his will expressly clear to everyone everywhere is a (^&!.  I'll extend a courtesy to you you did not give to me, and not pretend to know your intent, but you're suspicious to me now.  Third...  What survived, what I'm judging, what's in the here and now, is not perfect.  It's full of scientific errors, like light existing before the sun.  It's full of thematic errors, where king... Saul, I want to say, conflicts and reconciles with David like three times in a repeat of the same story, each unconscious of the other.  It's full of moral wrongness that anyone can see, and if you disagree I challenge you to find me an old testament story that isn't awful.  I'll listen to new, but I'm still rereading thru it, so I won't be as informed.  If you look at his character, and judge him with your own lens, the character of the god of the bible is monstrous, selfish, greedy, petty, and insecure.  His followers are laughably stupid and rebellious, in exodus they SEE HIS MIRACLES and decide to worship the golden calf on a whim, knowing there is a REAL, OBSERVED god that they were spurning.

It's so odd, in fact, I'd say it almost seems written, like a fable...

So you're saying that something can be unpleasant and moral?  Like drowning a world's worth of people to rectify your mistake of creating them?  They tell that story to children, but they don't mention all the murders god is directly responsible for, just the single family he saved.  Children couldn't deal with that, but... it's moral?  What about God hardening Pharaoh's heart in Exodus?  They never tell you that in sunday school.  They occasionally talk about it in the main service though.  It was explained to me he did it to glorify himself, he murdered the firstborn of a nation for the moral reason of narcissistically making them fear him by showing off...

Which didn't work, if the golden calf was any indication.

Again.  Tell me one story from the old testament that isn't awful (and morally wrong if you're going to be a jerk about the semantics).

"3)Have you ever encountered that uncanny disconnect, where they seem to be able to accept the individual premises of an argument, but refuse to accept the larger picture?"

Yes. I find this often. Particularly with this argument:
1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist
2. Objective moral values exist
3. Therefore God exists.

I know very many atheists who routinely assert (1) to be true on a Monday, assert (2) to be true on a Tuesday but never allow themselves to reach the conclusion (3) on any day.

I'm not saying that's true of all atheists all the time...but it's true of a lot, a lot of the time. So your observation is far from a one way street in that regard.

The thing is, objective morals don't exist, so one of your premises is flawed and your logic doesn't follow.

Even if you're going to argue objective morals do exist, that's not the problem I'm describing, by the simple virtue that I don't accept your premises.  If I did believe in objective morals, you would have a point.  Now you only have my increasing suspicion.  I believe you are a charlatan sir.

My arguments look more like this:

1)  (my first premise)  The God of the bible is described as a perfect, all loving, all merciful being, perfectly just.

She accepts this.

2) (my second premise) Inside the cannon of the bible, god is wrathful and petty, he murders, he orders rape and pillage, he demands blood sacrifice, and likes the smell of burning flesh.

Listening to me tell specific stories, she accepts this.

3) (my conclusion)  The god of the bible does not exist, cannon by definition exist, because of the content of the cannon of the bible.

Nope.

In contrast yours was:

1.(your first premise) If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist.  (I don't know if that's true.  I don't believe in objective morals, but I don't see anything inherent in that statement that, or any reason they couldn't exist independant of god.  Say chemistry just dictates the part of our brain that deals with morals always forms a certain way, for instance.  I don't really care, so I'll ceed the point, but my first premise is unquestionably true, and can be researched.)

2. (your second premise) Objective moral values exist (Again, and much moreso this time, you're making a claim, not stating a fact.  Premises have to be factual to work.  I don't accept that morality is objective, so...)

3. (your conclusion...) Therefore God exists. (falls apart.)

Even when Christians do follow and agree with both of my premises openly, whether you personally do or not, the conclusion that must follow is where they turn their brain off.  You might think you understand, the experience is probably very, very similar, but I like to think it's worse when you can see you're actually right.  I mean I know you think you're right, but again... sick burn, huh? x3

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #139 on: April 14, 2017, 10:11:40 PM »
Like any other problem, the conflicts within religions have to be acknowledged before anything can be done to rectify them.  Conditioning is carried out in many, many areas of life.  Religion is simply another type of conditioning.  The cognitive dissonance that occurs when religious people are presented with evidence that contradicts their conditioning is very powerful.  I've found that time has to pass before these things can really be tackled--presenting conflicting evidence, then giving it time to be considered, or even subconsciously absorbed.  My own deconversion worked much the same way.  It took time to slowly peel off the layers of conditioning.

And welcome to Elliquiy, Nimbuscloud :)

Oh, I missed you there!  Thank you for the answer!

Fair points!  I'll try to keep that in mind, the next time I want to scrub it off of someone all at once.   So it's not all just talking to a brick wall, even when it feels like it? xD

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #140 on: April 14, 2017, 10:43:25 PM »
Oh, I missed you there!  Thank you for the answer!

Fair points!  I'll try to keep that in mind, the next time I want to scrub it off of someone all at once.   So it's not all just talking to a brick wall, even when it feels like it? xD

Another thing to keep in mind is that a civil discussion generally has better results than something that can be perceived as condescension, regardless of the issue.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #141 on: April 14, 2017, 10:44:15 PM »
Actually, I'm an atheist and I do believe that an objective morality exists. I just don't think that it comes from a Deity.

I mean, morality is nuanced, but there are certain general statements that can be said to be mostly correct.

Life is preferable to death, health is preferable to sickness, pleasure is preferable to pain and happiness is preferable to sadness. A populace being healthy, happy and safe is good for society as a whole, and can therefore be considered "Moral," since morality is just about the state of human society as a whole.

Based on these, we can come up with the basics of an objective morality.

Morality is certainly situational, since no two situations are the same, but in each of those situations, there is always an objectively "right" answer. Since morality is simply about causing as much good and / or as little harm as possible to the most people (or the least harm to the least people possible), then there will always be an objectively correct answer as to which one that is. Whether or not you know the right answer is immaterial to whether it exists or not.

Whatever you say, morality isn't subjective. If a society decides that sacrificing babies and beating their women if they talk back is moral, then they are wrong. I don't care why they think it's moral. They're just wrong, and my sense of morality is superior to theirs in a measurable way.

Now people can know what's moral and still choose to do the immoral thing, because people are messy and selfish and sometimes we act more in our own self interests than other peoples. But that doesn't prevent or disprove the existence of an objectively correct answer, since in every situation, there will be a choice that objectively either maximises good or minimises harm. Just because you don't know which one is which sometimes, doesn't mean that they don't exist.

That's how I view things, anyway.

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #142 on: April 14, 2017, 11:45:16 PM »
Another thing to keep in mind is that a civil discussion generally has better results than something that can be perceived as condescension, regardless of the issue.

How do you tell someone they are clearly wrong, when they are clearly wrong, without condescending to them?  I try to use comedy, but my results are hit or miss.  Was that last post over the line?  I'm sorry.  Like I said, I won't lurk around here if you don't want me to, no offense taken or intended.

Actually, I'm an atheist and I do believe that an objective morality exists. I just don't think that it comes from a Deity.

I mean, morality is nuanced, but there are certain general statements that can be said to be mostly correct.

Life is preferable to death, health is preferable to sickness, pleasure is preferable to pain and happiness is preferable to sadness. A populace being healthy, happy and safe is good for society as a whole, and can therefore be considered "Moral," since morality is just about the state of human society as a whole.

Based on these, we can come up with the basics of an objective morality.

Morality is certainly situational, since no two situations are the same, but in each of those situations, there is always an objectively "right" answer. Since morality is simply about causing as much good and / or as little harm as possible to the most people (or the least harm to the least people possible), then there will always be an objectively correct answer as to which one that is. Whether or not you know the right answer is immaterial to whether it exists or not.

Whatever you say, morality isn't subjective. If a society decides that sacrificing babies and beating their women if they talk back is moral, then they are wrong. I don't care why they think it's moral. They're just wrong, and my sense of morality is superior to theirs in a measurable way.

Now people can know what's moral and still choose to do the immoral thing, because people are messy and selfish and sometimes we act more in our own self interests than other peoples. But that doesn't prevent or disprove the existence of an objectively correct answer, since in every situation, there will be a choice that objectively either maximises good or minimises harm. Just because you don't know which one is which sometimes, doesn't mean that they don't exist.

That's how I view things, anyway.

As I understand it Objective morals are morals that a true and constant because of intrinsic properties of a universe.  Murder is wrong because it's wrong, not because you think it's wrong, and all murder is wrong.

I hate the sacrificing babies example, because it's so over-the-top.  It's not impossible to think of an example, but it's needlessly complex, and I'm tired, so I'm gonna stick to murder.

If morality was objective, it would be wrong to murder someone.  If someone was going to murder you, or your family, it would still be wrong to murder them, even to protect them.  He would be doing wrong, but so would you, inherintly, by committing the murder in self defence.  In subjective morality, in most cases murdering someone is wrong.  Some people may think murdering a man who intends to murder you and your family is wrong, some won't.  The murderer will certainly tell you it's wrong to murder him, but your ma will probably thank you when it's over.

When you say there is always an objectively right answer to questions of morality... I think you're confusing terms, I don't think that's what he was saying when he said objective morality.  Your definition is a bit more colloquial, where he (I'm assuming) is sticking to the definition that morality is inherit in the universe(because it was put there by god).

I'd argue that you yourself are arguing for subjective morality, because the metric you're using to determine whether something is good or bad is how much good it does, not an innate property of itself.  Gay sex is a sin and immoral, because it is a sin and immoral, according to objective chrisitain morality, no matter who does or doesn't get hurt, and whether or not they liked it.

I wonder how you made it this far as a writer, and what the content of your work consists of.  George R.R. Martin has a series about characters struggling with impossible moral quandries. xD

So a woman is pregnant, but if the baby is born she will die.  Either way, a life will be lost, the life of the mother, or the life of the child.  The mother wants to die for her baby.  Her husband would rather have her live, and try again.  What is the objective answer to solve their problem?

Killing the mom, because the baby has more potential, and will ergo be the most objectively good?  Dad might have something to say about that.  So might the kid who has to grow up without a mom later.  Save the mother, since the couple can have another?  That might do some real psychological damage to mommy, that could also have a profound impact on the lives of her and her husband.  The late, great Hitch was an atheist who was pro-life.  I say life sucks enough as it is, don't force someone to bring a kid into the world that they can't take care of, which I think is an objectively better outcome.  If I had a choice, I would not have been born.   I think there are plenty of perfectly reasonable examples of cases of subjective, by your definition and otherwise.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #143 on: April 15, 2017, 12:01:10 AM »
As I understand it Objective morals are morals that a true and constant because of intrinsic properties of a universe.  Murder is wrong because it's wrong, not because you think it's wrong, and all murder is wrong.

That isn't what I believe at all. It's wrong to go out and just shoot somebody in the head because A) you wouldn't like it happening to you, and B) it causes more harm than good, to all people involved.


If morality was objective, it would be wrong to murder someone.  If someone was going to murder you, or your family, it would still be wrong to murder them, even to protect them.

Not what I believe at all. If somebody is about to kill you and your family, and you shoot them or twat them over the head with an iron poker and end up killing them, you did the right thing. The option was either defend yourself and get killed, along with your family, or defend yourself and stop them from hurting you. In that situation, the right thing to do is defend yourself; they have put themselves into the position where they are trying to hurt people, and you have put yourself into the position where you stopped them hurting people. Ergo, you are doing the objectively moral thing by stopping them from hurting people.


In subjective morality, in most cases murdering someone is wrong.  Some people may think murdering a man who intends to murder you and your family is wrong, some won't.  The murderer will certainly tell you it's wrong to murder him, but your ma will probably thank you when it's over.

I don't think you actually listened to what I said...I thought I made it very clear that A) that is situational morality and not subjective (there is a difference) and B) Objective Morality is not mutually exclusive with Objective morality, because in how I define objective morality, each situation has an objectively right and wrong answer.


When you say there is always an objectively right answer to questions of morality... I think you're confusing terms, I don't think that's what he was saying when he said objective morality.  Your definition is a bit more colloquial, where he (I'm assuming) is sticking to the definition that morality is inherit in the universe(because it was put there by god).

No, I'm not. I said that I believe in objective morality, but then I define what I meant because I know people mean different things when they say that. All objective means is that there is a right and wrong answer, regardless of peoples opinions on the matter. I defined what I meant, and how it differed from his. I'm not confusing terms at all, I'm just clarifying that I disagree with what he claims as the source of objectivity.


I'd argue that you yourself are arguing for subjective morality, because the metric you're using to determine whether something is good or bad is how much good it does, not an innate property of itself.  Gay sex is a sin and immoral, because it is a sin and immoral, according to objective chrisitain morality, no matter who does or doesn't get hurt, and whether or not they liked it.

No. Subjective just means "whether something is good or bad depends on the persons opinion," and nothing more. Situational is "It depends on the situation." It doesn't matter how many times that situation occurs, the right answer is always the same. But what is right in what situation is different to another situation. Subjective is when what is right and wrong depends entirely not on the situation, but the person IN the situation.
Two very different things. I support situational morality, but NOT subjective morality, because subjective leaves it up to people, and people can and are often wrong about what causes harm and good.


I wonder how you made it this far as a writer, and what the content of your work consists of.

I'm...sorry? I'm trying hard not to take this as an insult, but it's kind of hard when you start the sentence with "I wonder how you made it this far." Would you mind clarifying what, exactly, you mean?


So a woman is pregnant, but if the baby is born she will die.  Either way, a life will be lost, the life of the mother, or the life of the child.  The mother wants to die for her baby.  Her husband would rather have her live, and try again.  What is the objective answer to solve their problem?

The mother dying for her baby, simply because forcing her to get an abortion would violate her freedom of will, which would cause her more harm, emotionally, than simply her death would. Her body, her choice. The father does not get to override her wishes in the matter. It sucks, it's difficult, but in the end it's up to her.
If you are violating another persons freedom of will (when they have the freedom to make that choice, and the only person who is directly, physically affected is them) you are in the wrong.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #144 on: April 15, 2017, 12:09:53 AM »
If anything, most [atheists] are trying to assert that 'belief in a deity' (whether one exists or not) is not required for one to be a moral individual. 

That's pretty much how I always felt. "Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds." should be your watchwords regardless of religious beliefs.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #145 on: April 15, 2017, 12:36:44 AM »
But what if you're only an atheist because you want to do evil, hateful things? What if you deny God so you can sin? Then you're obviously not following that creed!   :P

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #146 on: April 15, 2017, 12:45:05 AM »
That isn't what I believe at all. It's wrong to go out and just shoot somebody in the head because A) you wouldn't like it happening to you, and B) it causes more harm than good, to all people involved.


Um...  I never said that's what you believe, I said that's what objective morality is.  It's the literal definition.


Not what I believe at all. If somebody is about to kill you and your family, and you shoot them or twat them over the head with an iron poker and end up killing them, you did the right thing. The option was either defend yourself and get killed, along with your family, or defend yourself and stop them from hurting you. In that situation, the right thing to do is defend yourself; they have put themselves into the position where they are trying to hurt people, and you have put yourself into the position where you stopped them hurting people. Ergo, you are doing the objectively moral thing by stopping them from hurting people.

I agree with you, but this supports what is referred to by the dictionary definition of subjective morality.



I don't think you actually listened to what I said...I thought I made it very clear that A) that is situational morality and not subjective (there is a difference) and B) Objective Morality is not mutually exclusive with Objective morality, because in how I define objective morality, each situation has an objectively right and wrong answer.


No... you are the one who isn't paying attention.  YOU DON'T GET TO DEFINE WORDS.  There's a board or something that does that.  THIS IS WHY IN SCHOOL YOU DON'T DICTATE ENGLISH AND GRAMMAR, YOU LEARN THEM. x3  You CAN'T walk into a conversation where two people are talking about the (appropriately named) objective meaning of a word, and then inject your own argument, based around your own subjective meanings, and expect to know WHAT THE %$@! IS GOING ON(in my life right now? T_T)

I've already explained, if you use the same definitions we were, the literal, dictionary definitions (Type objective morality into google.  You're already on the internet.  Go.  Do it.  Learn!  That's all I really want here, for people to think and learn!) you support subjective morality, what you describe as a situation with an outcome that does the most good being objectively superior to everyone involved is not the same as it being objectively moral, in the literal, dictionary sense.  It is the opposite in fact!

No, I'm not. I said that I believe in objective morality, but then I define what I meant because I know people mean different things when they say that. All objective means is that there is a right and wrong answer, regardless of peoples opinions on the matter. I defined what I meant, and how it differed from his. I'm not confusing terms at all, I'm just clarifying that I disagree with what he claims as the source of objectivity.

AGAIN.  Something being objectively moral doesn't mean (I'm going to stop citing the dictionary.) that it's moral in your eyes.  Literally and figuratively.  It means it is moral, because it is inherently moral.  You are claiming that an act being moral is objective based on the good it does... which means the act has no inherit moral properties... which means it isn't objectively moral in any sense but the definition you're using.

I think you're trying to say the option that does the most good IS what makes it objectively moral... but no it's not, objective morality is based on the inherit properties of the act, not any kind of metric.

You are. confusing the terms.  How can you say you're not?  You're using your own personal definition to describe something that has a different definition.  You are wrong.

That's okay!  It happens to the best of us!  I know this so well because I had to study ethics in school, and I'm sure you could "school" me on a variety of other topics... What's not okay is rigidly sticking to your convictions without listening to new evidence, especially when it proves you wrong.  I'm not trying to make a fool of you, I'm trying to make you a more informed person.

No. Subjective just means "whether something is good or bad depends on the persons opinion," and nothing more. Situational is "It depends on the situation." It doesn't matter how many times that situation occurs, the right answer is always the same. But what is right in what situation is different to another situation. Subjective is when what is right and wrong depends entirely not on the situation, but the person IN the situation.
Two very different things. I support situational morality, but NOT subjective morality, because subjective leaves it up to people, and people can and are often wrong about what causes harm and good.

Again, according to your definition...  Okay.  You win.  According to your definition, morality is objective.   If you write an ethics paper to support your views, you'll flunk it, however, because in the ethics classroom, your definition of objective morality conforms to the classes' definition of subjective morality.

It's amazing the level of cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing here, from a self-purported atheist.  It's also amazing to me you support situational morality because you like what that entails more, rather than because it most accurately describes the truth of the world.  That's pretty much my biggest problem with religion.

You're also arguing with semantics, debating me on the meaning of words, which you seem to be adjusting on your whim... rather than actually taking on the subsistence of my argument, in which I'm fairly sure we share similar views.

 
I'm...sorry? I'm trying hard not to take this as an insult, but it's kind of hard when you start the sentence with "I wonder how you made it this far." Would you mind clarifying what, exactly, you mean?

That was meant to be somewhat provocative, but I don't think you should be insulted.   You basically denied the existence of complex moral questions, which I feel is the bulk of the interesting subject matter of most writing.  To me it equates to saying "there's nothing interesting to write about!"  Clearly not to you, and I'm not trying to say that's what you said or implied... but it's absurd to me.  Like a sort of oxymoron.  It makes me laugh, I was hoping seeing it spelled out would make you laugh too.




The mother dying for her baby, simply because forcing her to get an abortion would violate her freedom of will, which would cause her more harm, emotionally, than simply her death would. Her body, her choice. The father does not get to override her wishes in the matter. It sucks, it's difficult, but in the end it's up to her.
If you are violating another persons freedom of will (when they have the freedom to make that choice, and the only person who is directly, physically affected is them) you are in the wrong.

Yes.  You're not going to hear any arguments about violating a person's wishes being wrong to me.  Once again, for the umpteenth time, I think we'd agree on what we consider right and wrong most of the time.  That's not what we're arguing about, we're arguing about the meaning of words, and whether we should use your personal definition, or the one the rest of the world uses.

I don't see the example I outlined in that black and white of a light, and I think you're basing that solely on the feelings of the woman, while I think it's important to consider how the action effects everyone.  Her body, her choice, true, but whatever he choice is, that doesn't make it inherently moral, it's considering the effect of her actions on everyone involved that does that.

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #147 on: April 15, 2017, 12:52:16 AM »
But what if you're only an atheist because you want to do evil, hateful things? What if you deny God so you can sin? Then you're obviously not following that creed!   :P

So to me your points of view have become more and more suspicious.  This pretty much cinches it for me, there's no way you're not either a troll(in which case well done), or a christian trying to win credibility by posing as an atheist, it wouldn't be the first time I've seen that, and it's usually as transparent as this.

There are no atheists who only don't believe in god so they can do hateful things.  You don't deny god so you can sin.  That implies you know god is real, but you're choosing to pretend he's not, and says nothing about your belief.

If you know god is real, understand the consequences he's imposing on you, and ignore them anyway... you're an idiot, you're dumber than the calf-worshippers in exodus.  If you don't understand the consequences... he's a cruel ba@#@$ for punishing you anyway.

The fact that you think people could choose whether or not to believe something is also a red flag, you may want to try to hide that in the future.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #148 on: April 15, 2017, 12:57:41 AM »
Nimbuscloud, I'm fairly certain Vergil's quote is missing sarcasm tags.  :-)

But what if you're only an atheist because you want to do evil, hateful things? What if you deny God so you can sin? Then you're obviously not following that creed!   :P

I find it amusing that in places like my country, where 94% of the population is declared as belonging to a certain confession (orthodox christians for the most part, with very little of other christian groups), you end up with the majority of the "bad" people actually being fervent believers, at least according to their own declarations at the census. Then again, crime in general has been on a decreasing trend here for nearly two decades now, but I don't think it has that much to do with a good moral education (whether religious or not), as with the criminals moving over to more lucrative areas in Western Europe.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #149 on: April 15, 2017, 01:19:18 AM »
I'll reply properly later. On my phone at the moment.

But yes, Nimbus, that shorter post was 100% sarcasm, mocking that common accusation. Take a chill pill. :P

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #150 on: April 15, 2017, 01:31:38 AM »
Also, I'll add this; you need to take a step back and look at how you're taking to people. You're coming across as extremely condescending here, and that is not the way to convince people of your position. I'll have a full response up later though.

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #151 on: April 15, 2017, 01:34:16 AM »
Well screw you man, it's not my fault it's so hard to tell the difference between the trolls and true believers!  xD

Seriously, that argument has been used in front of me before.  I lived in Alabama for a while.  Thank you for your condolences. x3

As I said, well done.  I'm stupid, okay?  Is that what you want? ARE YOU NOT AMUSED?! xP

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #152 on: April 15, 2017, 01:36:05 AM »
Also, I'll add this; you need to take a step back and look at how you're taking to people. You're coming across as extremely condescending here, and that is not the way to convince people of your position. I'll have a full response up later though.

Oh... I disagree.  I could write another long spiele about why... but I won't.  I'm going to see myself out now, thanks for your time.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #153 on: April 15, 2017, 01:44:29 AM »

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #154 on: April 15, 2017, 01:51:31 AM »
To a certain extent, whether you disagree is irrelavent. I know you aren't intending to be condescending, but that's how certain parts of your post come across. Like questioning my writing ability when that has nothing to do with what's being discussed, or implying that I'm ignorant or ill informed when discussing a philosophical, subjective issue. Or how you called me a "self purported atheist," with cognitive dissonance, suggesting that I'm not a real atheist or how my beliefs are somehow dishonest or inconsistent?

I know that isn't how you're intending to come across, but it is how certain things you've said appear.
When talking about how you're coming across, that isn't up to you, it's up to the people listening. And to me, quite a few of your comments came across as condescending. I'm simply advising you that that's how it sounds, so you can watch out for it in future. :-)  Lord knows (harhar) that I have problems monitoring my tone sometimes too! XD

Though peacing out when somebody says that your tone is a little too aggressive? That seems a bit of an over reaction.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #155 on: April 15, 2017, 02:22:08 AM »
Since a full reply seems unnecessary since Nimbus has bowed out, I'll just clarify my position;

I believe in situational morality. What this means to me is that objective moral pronouncements such as "all murder is wrong" lacks any real truth value; morality is on a situation by situation basis. What is moral in one situation is not necessarily moral in another situation. However, since morality is - I believe - based simply on doing as much good and little harm as possible, every situation has an objectively superior choice OR an objectively inferior choice.
Now whether we know what that choice is is another matter. Unlike Nimbus suggested I think, moral quandaries do exist and those arise when the "right" answer isn't clear for whatever reason.

My characters, not that it's relavent, frequently either agonise over what the right thing to do is, or do the wrong thing despite knowing it's wrong for selfish reasons (EG, one of my characters, Dante, would plant a bomb and kill a thousand people in a heartbeat if it meant keeping his sister safe from harm. Despite the crushing guilt he would feel, his sister comes first, always.

In any case, I believe that morality does not come from a grand immutable moral law, or some all powerful creator. It simply comes from doing as much good and little harm as possible, amd by necessity, that means that every situation has to be treated as its own occurrence. It's why when the law says "no killing," there are mitigating circumstances that exist to account for nuances.

Now that I've defined my position, I am not interested in discussing whether I should call it what I call it. I don't want and never wanted an argument on definitions in this case. That's irrelevant, when I have thoroughly explained what I mean. What bshould be the focus now is the specifics of what I believe, not what terminology I attach to it in my own head.

I hope that makes my position clearer :-)

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #156 on: April 15, 2017, 03:55:56 AM »
Feel better?

Everything you said about morality is spot on.  Except what you're calling it.  That's really the only thing I'm interested in talking about with you in this argument.  It's a shame you're not interested in that, because that means we have very, very little left to talk about.  You should learn the correct terminology, because if you don't things become confusing.  A prime example is what just happened there, with you coming in on my conversation with another user.  To phrase things neutrally, there was a conflict between us, because of that confusion, which is something that I would like to avoid in the future.

Even at the end there, I agree, arguments should be based on their content, not their terminology.  I just think that argument could've been avoided if the proper terminology had been used.

I apologize if you feel like I was implying you were uneducated because I mentioned my time at college.  Have you not been to college?  I've noticed people who haven't  get defensive about that, and I never see it coming.  If it makes you feel better I have an associates degree, in a field that makes it about as useful as toilet paper, and far less comfortable.  I have a lot of general knowledge, but I barely know what I'm talking about on anything. xP

I apologize that my joke offended you.  I will not apologize for making the joke, because that's silly.  A joke, by nature is not true, nor is it to be taken seriously.  I am sure you are a very capable writer, since you've passed the application process, a feat I have yet to match.  I did not mean to suggest you don't tell a compelling story, and based on the efficacy of your sarcasm, I will publicly endorse that people should write with you.

What you take away from what I say is important, but so is my intent.  I try to be very clear, but if you see some savage intent where a playful jest was meant... I'm not wholly blameless, but I don't think it's fair that I take the same backlash I would if I meant what I said the way you said it, to talk about the broad concept of the idea.  I'm on the autism spectrum, and... it's hard to describe...  I don't think like normal people.  It's weird, I'm weird, and I know it, but I don't know how to not-do it.  I tend to ramble... often... awkwardly... I'm doing it now.  I'm afraid that sort of robotic, meticulous strangeness comes off as condescending sometimes, I apologize if it seems like I describe things in meticulous detail... but that's the way I do things.  Take a look at my posts.

I'm unclear on any other points you may have felt condescended on, I think that probably makes up most of it.

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #157 on: April 15, 2017, 04:45:37 AM »
If you mean to imply that my knowing more about something than, or correcting you about something you are wrong about is condescending.  In an attempt to get this back on the rails, I don't think we as atheists should be afraid to correct people in their mistakes, and I don't think people should think being corrected is such a shameful thing.

Regarding Christianity specifically, when someone tells me the bible is inerrant, I fail to see how pointing out a contradiction in the bible is condescending, since they're claiming something that is blatantly factually inaccurate, and you can actually show them hard evidence.  That's very interesting to me, because a lot of religious debate is in the form of these flowery, ambiguous concepts, but that is something that's binary, the answer is yes or know; and it's no.  When you actually read the text, interpretation be damned, when you look at the morals you are being taught, it's concretely, tangibly not-true, people don't have to take my word for it, they can go see for themselves, but they either will not, or they will accept all of the premises, but deny the truth.  I understand the concept of cognitive dissonance, but I don't understand it, probably because I'm not experiencing it.  That doesn't make it any less frustrating, or bizarre to see from the outside looking in.

However in light of recent events, I can see how someone might construe being corrected on something as being talked down to.  Personally, I want people to tell me when I'm wrong, or when my fly is down, or when I'm being condescending...  Sometimes it's embarrassing, but that's how one learns.  I don't want to walk around with my junk hanging out all day, thank you.  I think it takes pressure like that, and a hard, honest look inward to shrug off the faith, or to grow as a person in general.  If you guys are gonna be the gentle hand that guides them through the door, I'm going to be the shove that gets them in your reach.

If I seem to have a particular scorn for the tactics Christians often use, it's probably because I've seen most of them a thousand times, and from my perspective if you really think rationally about the whole of the story, compared to what you see in the world around you, the answer is obvious.  I get logic. Other people don't seem to.  The only reason I can really fathom why is because they don't know any better.  I think it's natural that I want to teach people, to lead them thru the perspective I see, and I think sometimes a more aggressive approach is appropriate for that. 

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #158 on: April 15, 2017, 04:56:22 AM »
Everything you said about morality is spot on.  Except what you're calling it.  That's really the only thing I'm interested in talking about with you in this argument.  It's a shame you're not interested in that, because that means we have very, very little left to talk about.  You should learn the correct terminology, because if you don't things become confusing.  A prime example is what just happened there, with you coming in on my conversation with another user.  To phrase things neutrally, there was a conflict between us, because of that confusion, which is something that I would like to avoid in the future.

Well, I would agree if I had just said "I believe in objective morality" and then left it at that. As it is, I then went on to define what I meant, so to a certain extent, the term I used at the beginning should have become irrelevant. I just dislike using Subjective Morality as a term, because to the layman, that tends to hold certain negative connotations. EG, "Morality varies from person to person and there aren't objective standards," which doesn't accurately describe what I think. So....eeeeh? Arguments about definitions can be important sometimes (EG, if you're debating whether you have "Faith" or not), but when it comes to what people believe, definitions should be less important than the content of said beliefs themselves.


I apologize if you feel like I was implying you were uneducated because I mentioned my time at college.  Have you not been to college?  I've noticed people who haven't  get defensive about that, and I never see it coming.  If it makes you feel better I have an associates degree, in a field that makes it about as useful as toilet paper, and far less comfortable.  I have a lot of general knowledge, but I barely know what I'm talking about on anything. xP

Hm? Oh, no, it wasn't that. I have a 2:1 Degree from Reading University in England in History & Ancient History. It was more comments like
"Type objective morality into google.  You're already on the internet.  Go.  Do it.  Learn!  That's all I really want here, for people to think and learn!"
That came across as borderline aggressive / condescending in how it was phrased. I know you didn't mean it that way, which is why I didn't get annoyed or angry, I just thought I'd point out that some of what you said could have been phrased better, because somebody less laid back than me might well take offence, and there's nothing worse in a debate than your opponent refusing to listen because you've worded something in a way that makes them feel like you think they're stupid.


Type objective morality into google.  You're already on the internet.  Go.  Do it.  Learn!  That's all I really want here, for people to think and learn!I apologize that my joke offended you.  I will not apologize for making the joke, because that's silly.  A joke, by nature is not true, nor is it to be taken seriously.  I am sure you are a very capable writer, since you've passed the application process, a feat I have yet to match.  I did not mean to suggest you don't tell a compelling story, and based on the efficacy of your sarcasm, I will publicly endorse that people should write with you.[/quote]

It just seemed unnecessary and irrelevant. Why bring my writing into the conversation at all? And it wasn't actually clear that it was a joke at all. Believe me, there are people that I've spoken to who will pull in things like that as insults to try and "Score Points."


Type objective morality into google.  You're already on the internet.  Go.  Do it.  Learn!  That's all I really want here, for people to think and learn!What you take away from what I say is important, but so is my intent.  I try to be very clear, but if you see some savage intent where a playful jest was meant... I'm not wholly blameless, but I don't think it's fair that I take the same backlash I would if I meant what I said the way you said it, to talk about the broad concept of the idea.[/quote]

Ah yes, but if your intent isn't clear, you need to respect that people can easily take it the wrong way if you don't make your intentions clear. Hell, I'm not saying you should walk on eggshells around people - I certainly don't! - just be mindful that sometimes people can read things in a way that...is not exactly conducive to the conversation, if you don't make things clear.


Type objective morality into google.  You're already on the internet.  Go.  Do it.  Learn!  That's all I really want here, for people to think and learn!I'm on the autism spectrum, and... it's hard to describe...  I don't think like normal people.  It's weird, I'm weird, and I know it, but I don't know how to not-do it.  I tend to ramble... often... awkwardly... I'm doing it now.  I'm afraid that sort of robotic, meticulous strangeness comes off as condescending sometimes, I apologize if it seems like I describe things in meticulous detail... but that's the way I do things.  Take a look at my posts.[/quote]

Eh, it wasn't your meticulous nature, just certain comments that made me pause and think "...is he insulting me? I can't quite tell."


If you mean to imply that my knowing more about something than, or correcting you about something you are wrong about is condescending.  In an attempt to get this back on the rails, I don't think we as atheists should be afraid to correct people in their mistakes, and I don't think people should think being corrected is such a shameful thing.

I know I sound like a broken record here, but it wasn't anything that you were saying, it was more how you were saying it.
Like...
"What's not okay is rigidly sticking to your convictions without listening to new evidence, especially when it proves you wrong."
That suggests that I'm being intellectually dishonest, which I don't think I was doing. I was simply clarifying why I use that term, since "Subjective Morality" doesn't quite accurately describe how I think either, at least to the best of my knowledge. In my head, at least, there's a difference between subjective and situational morality. I actively seek new evidence, but when it comes to definitions of philosophical terms, I find it less important than the concepts themselves.

Or this:

"It's amazing the level of cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing here, from a self-purported atheist.  It's also amazing to me you support situational morality because you like what that entails more, rather than because it most accurately describes the truth of the world."

Here, you're questioning my motivations for believing something, and implying that I'm being dishonest or wilfully ignorant, which - regardless of what you say - is insulting and condescending since you seem to think you know why I think something better than I do. Statements like that are not about to win you friends, because people don't like having their motivations questioned or their opinions put down as "You like what it entails more, and you don't care if it's true or not." Um. Sorry, I care whether it's true, and I believe it because I think it's true. Also, the "Self purported" bit was unnecessary.

"You basically denied the existence of complex moral questions, which I feel is the bulk of the interesting subject matter of most writing."

And there, you're saying that I said something that I didn't actually say, and I didn't mean.

It isn't being corrected that annoys me, it's being misrepresented, having my sincerity and my motivations questioned, and being talked down to. Which I'm sure you can appreciate, no? What with people accusing you of only being an atheist so you can Sin! :P


I think sometimes a more aggressive approach is appropriate for that. 

And sometimes, it's just going to piss people off and make them feel not only stupid, but that you're making fun of them for being stupid. There's a time for the Iron Fist, yes, but there's also something to be said for the Velvet Glove in certain situations. You don't have to be aggressive, you just have to be firm. There's a difference, after all!

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #159 on: April 15, 2017, 05:51:27 AM »
Well, I would agree if I had just said "I believe in objective morality" and then left it at that. As it is, I then went on to define what I meant, so to a certain extent, the term I used at the beginning should have become irrelevant. I just dislike using Subjective Morality as a term, because to the layman, that tends to hold certain negative connotations. EG, "Morality varies from person to person and there aren't objective standards," which doesn't accurately describe what I think. So....eeeeh? Arguments about definitions can be important sometimes (EG, if you're debating whether you have "Faith" or not), but when it comes to what people believe, definitions should be less important than the content of said beliefs themselves.

The bulk of my disagreement with that comes from the fact that according to my interpretation of the way you initially presented yourself was that you were jumping on the guy I was engaged with's bandwagon.   When I actually read what you were saying, it seemed more like you were supporting me... but because I called objective morality what it is, and you used the word objective morality with a different connotation, things become hard to follow.  I think I was initially put on edge, and the adrenaline never stopped.

To be fair, I cited multiple times that I didn't disagree with what you said, just the way you used the language.  So I wasn't misinterpreting what you said, I'm just telling you you're not calling it the right thing.

I'm offended that you're offended that I asked you to google something that would have taken you ten seconds, I wanted to show you evidence on what I was talking about.  I'm fed up with this sort of laziness.  People come into my job every day and ask me what kind of fertilizer they need.  I DON'T KNOW, PEOPLE.  Not because I'm bad at my job, but because you haven't told me what you're growing.  If you want to grow something that isn't wilted plant, you need to do research into what it needs.  I don't have time to do everything it takes to keep the store running AND be your personal botanist!

Why bring your writing into things?  Because we're on a site for writers.  I'm waiting to get in.  It's on my mind.  I was making an observation on a technical aspect of writing that was funny to me.  Why explain the nature of my jokes?  Because I want to be a comedian, and I'm a person with a personality, I'm sorry you don't like it.

I think from the context, the tone of my earlier stuff, and the freaking emoticons it was clear it was a joke, but I'm sorry if it wasn't  If I wanted to assassinate your character, instead of telling you to learn, I would claim you were too stupid to grasp the larger concepts I was driving at.  I know you're not, but you're talking like I have no sense of tact whatsoever, and I think you're being a little hypersensitive.  I've seen the type of atheist you're painting me to be, and I am not that.  Of course, I think people in general are too hypersensitive.  I don't give a damn about intangible "points" in an argument, because me being right about something once does not mean I will be right about the next thing.

I think you were being intellectually dishonest at the point in which I explained what the terms meant and you denied them.  I think you were offended, and you felt like I was calling you out and trying to embarrass you, and I think I understand why you acted the way you did and do now.  I think it's still intellectually dishonest on some level,  since you clearly understand the difference between the connotation and denotation, but still insist on using the former, but I don't think that makes you stupid, or a bad person, just incredibly stubborn.  I don't think it matters at the end of the day, it just really freaking bothers me.  If you had said, "You're right, strictly speaking by the dictionary definition, that is what I'm talking about, but I prefer to use these terms for these reasons," or however you would express that sentiment, like you did not long ago in so many words, we would've had a much shorter conversation, and I am finding you impossibly stubborn, in an endearing way, at the fact that we are still talking about this.

When I said you denied complex morals. . . .

You said I said you said(@_@) something you actually didn't say, and didn't mean.

That's not entirely true...  You didn't mean it, but you did kind of say it.  That is part of why it was supposed to be a joke, because I could tell what you meant, but because you said something with a different connotation than mine it created this strange circumstance where you were basically saying, if I took your words literal... you know what, nevermind, it's no fun if I have to explain it, hopefully you get it now though, right?

My agnosticism from your atheism came from the structure of your arguments.  This is not meant to offend, again just an observation, but some of what you said, and the reasoning behind what you said, reminds me of the atheist straw men I often see.  Most notably what I've seen from watch The Bible Reloaded reviews.  I am sure that is due to sarcasm and coincidence, but I did see definite similarities, and I think that's why your position was confusing to me.  I also take everything, everything with a huge grain of salt.  I'm not entirely convinced this site isn't an elaborate ruse to keep me from sleeping.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #160 on: April 15, 2017, 06:11:34 AM »
I'm offended that you're offended that I asked you to google something that would have taken you ten seconds, I wanted to show you evidence on what I was talking about.  I'm fed up with this sort of laziness.

I will say again.
I wasn't annoyed at being told to go google something, I was annoyed at how you said it. How you said it came across as condescending.
BUT.
I will say that if you are trying to convince somebody of something, it's up to you to present the evidence, not tell them to go and look it up. Just saying.


Why bring your writing into things?  Because we're on a site for writers.  I'm waiting to get in.  It's on my mind.

Perhaps, but when discussing religion and morality and whatnot, what has somebodies writing ability got to do with it? It's wholly unrelated, and the way you brought it up seemed kind of like a veiled insult. You didn't mean it that way, but it's how it looked. It made me think "Um...why is that relevant in any way, shape or form? What does it add to the conversation?" Especially since your initial comment was phrased as:

"I wonder how you made it this far as a writer, and what the content of your work consists of."
That makes it sound like you're saying that you don't think I can be a good writer because of the opinion you think I hold. Why, exactly, was that necessary?


I was making an observation on a technical aspect of writing that was funny to me.  Why explain the nature of my jokes?  Because I want to be a comedian, and I'm a person with a personality, I'm sorry you don't like it.

But there's a time and a place, and the way you phrased it made it just sound like you were being nasty rather than funny.


I think from the context, the tone of my earlier stuff, and the freaking emoticons it was clear it was a joke, but I'm sorry if it wasn't

You might think so, but...obviously it wasn't, otherwise the misunderstanding would never have occurred. It seems to me that you're apologising without apologising.
Let me make this clear;
I don't give a shit. I'm not upset or angry. I assumed you didn't mean it in that way, I am simply pointing out that it came across that way. Remember, you had other people beforehand note that you were being a little condescending, so do you not think that perhaps - just maybe - your phrasing in some of the things you're saying could be a little off?


If I wanted to assassinate your character, instead of telling you to learn, I would claim you were too stupid to grasp the larger concepts I was driving at.  I know you're not, but you're talking like I have no sense of tact whatsoever, and I think you're being a little hypersensitive.

I don't think so. The way you're phrasing a lot of your comments is coming across as very...superior-sounding. Again, I know that isn't how you're intending it, but I've just pointed out several places where your tone crept into a place you weren't intending. I'm telling you that it sounded condescending to me. And you're saying that...it...didn't?


I think you were being intellectually dishonest at the point in which I explained what the terms meant and you denied them.

But I didn't deny them. I just said that my opinion was a slightly different definition, partly because I haven't found a term that accurately describes what I think.


I think you were offended, and you felt like I was calling you out and trying to embarrass you, and I think I understand why you acted the way you did and do now.

I acted the way I acted because you were coming across in a very condescending manner. I'll keep saying this until I go blue in the face; the way you phrased things, it made you sound like you thought you were much cleverer than everybody else, and that we were simply being stupid, "Lazy" and "Dishonest."


I think it's still intellectually dishonest on some level,  since you clearly understand the difference between the connotation and denotation, but still insist on using the former, but I don't think that makes you stupid, or a bad person, just incredibly stubborn.

I disagree. I simply said that I use one word because another word holds negative connotations. Yes, it isn't literally what it means, but I avoid one word because it isn't precisely what I believe, and holds more negative connotations than the other one. Please, explain to me how that is me being intellectually dishonest and stubborn.

For the record, your insistence that you weren't being condescending or dismissive is stubborn as well. You have somebody telling you that you were coming across as condescending, regardless of whether you meant to or not. Your answer, instead of "oop, sorry, I'll keep an eye on that" is "No I wasn't, you're just being stubborn and defensive because you're embarrassed!"

I'm not embarrassed. I don't care. I'm just saying that you came across more negatively than you intended, and should keep an eye on your tone since that will influence how people react to you.


I am finding you impossibly stubborn, in an endearing way, at the fact that we are still talking about this.

Again, that comes across as condescending, as if you think you're talking to a stubborn toddler, or a particularly obstinate pet. "Awww, you're stubborn, aren't you? YOU'RE SO CUTE!"
-___-
I'm not talking about the original thing anymore. I'm saying how you come across is more patronising and sometimes derogatory than you might realise, and you are being stubborn by not acknowledging how you might come across to other people.


My agnosticism from your atheism came from the structure of your arguments.  This is not meant to offend, again just an observation, but some of what you said, and the reasoning behind what you said, reminds me of the atheist straw men I often see.  Most notably what I've seen from watch The Bible Reloaded reviews.  I am sure that is due to sarcasm and coincidence, but I did see definite similarities, and I think that's why your position was confusing to me.  I also take everything, everything with a huge grain of salt.  I'm not entirely convinced this site isn't an elaborate ruse to keep me from sleeping.

I was being sarcastic.

I am an agnostic atheist.

I am not a strawman or some moron pretending to be one to troll.

Is that clear? Can you stop questioning my sincerity in my beliefs (or lack thereof) please?

Offline Nimbuscloud

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #161 on: April 15, 2017, 07:15:05 AM »
How the hell is telling someone where to find the facts on something not presenting evidence?  You're not a troll?  There's no way!  I'm allowed to doubt your sincerity based on my interpretation of your evidence, and I'm allowed to express that opinion.  That doesn't make my ideas true, but right now they seem very well supported.  I don't know you though, and you're here, but my gut is just screaming troll, and you don't get to make me feel bad about feeling a way I feel, whether it's warranted or not.  Jesus, this thread has been a self-awareness bomb for me(that last statement made me re-think my antitheism... though I still hold that view, and I've always been pretty lax with logical moderates).  This has all been very humbling, I'm learning a lot about myself, but that doesn't make me totally wrong, and I'm not going to lie down and let you have every feeble point you contest because you made me see a few interesting ideas.

I just said, somebody writing ability has nothing to do with their ability to debate ethics, other than perhaps effecting their presentation.  I JUST said it was a little splash of my personality.  We're supposed to be a community, as writers, if not as unbelievers.  Are you not ashamed to be at each other's throats like this over something so trivial?  I am.  We are personifying the herding cats idiom right now.

If you're not angry, stop bringing it up, and stop chastising me for it again and again, I get it already, how many more times do you need me to apologize?  You know what, my tone has probably become increasingly condescending because I'm feeling increasingly passive aggressive.  I'm annoyed now, hell I'm angry.  How do you not at least understand where I'm coming from, after I've been hammering in ad nausium all night?  How do you not have the self-awareness or human decency to at least grasp the tip of my olive branch?  I'm telling you in explicit detail what I mean and where I'm coming from, and I don't feel like you're acknowledging even my attempts at all, on top of which you're misrepresenting me now, calling the kettle black!  You're interpreting compliments as veiled insults, so you're assuming the worst of everything I say already;  I can't win here!  I thought if I smoothed things over a little with some blatant ass-kissing I could at least talk to you like a person, but apparently not!

People who don't fact check ARE lazy.  Get over it.  If you don't know things, that's no one's fault but your own.  If that causes you embarrassment later, that's all you.  I didn't force you to feel that way, I genuinely regret that I made you feel that way.  That doesn't make you not wrong.

People who, knowing the correct information, present information they know is faulty ARE being intellectually dishonest. 
I think you attach an unnecessary gravity to that term, like you have a negative connotation for subjective morality.  You think I'm accusing you of some great crime, when really, all I'm saying is you're telling a little fib, or bending the truth a bit.  I'm not throwing out insults, I'm calling it like I see it, as you said it's up to you to persuade your audience; I think your unyieldingness in any ground whatsoever to me, and the way it injured your pride speaks for your own arrogance.  And me still being here speaks to my stubbornness.  So neither of us have any character, we're both awful human beings, I'm a bit more direct than your subtle implications, and I stress minor details like caring about whether what I'm saying is accurate, and can be understood, but we're both basically just human garbage.

If it's not clear, the above was bombastic, silly exaggeration, and this is condescension.

No, it's not clear.  Nothing is clear with you, except the fact that you and I share a great many bad personality traits, and that we are absolutely toxic together.  That was cruel irony.  This whole thing has been petty.

Can we agree on that?  Can we just agree that you and I should never, ever be in a room together?  I'll leave, I'll fight the temptation to come back and read the nasty things you'll say about me, how you'll insinuate I'm a coward for leaving, I'll try really, really hard, and then we can just move on with our lives.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #162 on: April 15, 2017, 07:39:45 AM »
I never said anything nasty about you, just that some of the things you have said come across as condescending. I also resent the implication that I would call you a coward, dishonest or any kind of cruel name in your absence.

I have gone to great lengths to state that I know that this wasn't how you intended to come across, but that it's how you did so regardless. A lot of your comments come across as either patronising or insulting, and if you can't accept that this might indeed be how you've come across, then I have nothing more to say. Although, I will say that directly quoting things that you have said and saying "Hey, that kind of seems like you're insulting me," isn't misrepresentation. It's pointing to a thing you said and saying "Hey, that seems a bit nasty." If you perceive anybody taking issue with how you're expressing your ideas - if they think it seems a bit needlessly insulting or patronising - as a personal attack, I don't know what to say. I never said anything even remotely approaching a comment on you as a person, just on how you're phrasing certain things.

I've tried to point out that you're being condescending and kind of insulting in a lot of what you say, but you have no interest in listening. Yeah, I was wrong when I used Objective Morality to describe what I believe, but I used it for lack of a better, more accurate term. You've been consistently aggressive and condescending, and I've lost patience with it. For somebody who is so annoyed at somebody for apparently not understanding where they're coming from, there seems to be a lot of that on your part, too.

I'm done with this particular conversation. I agree, we should probably avoid each other in future.

Have a good day, and good luck with your application.

(And yes, that was sincere)

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #163 on: April 19, 2017, 11:19:38 AM »


As a mild baptist. This my response to nimbus's bullshit...

I don't really need to debate things here on the internet, largely because I've had these discussion with a hardcore athiest at my D&D group and we usually joke and poke fun. Nobody has ever changed their world view based on an internet forum debate, because most will instantly look up a site that confirms their biases.

I just wanted to throw my two cents in because Zelots bug me.

It's also why the christian churches that are growing are the ones who turn away from this clickbait reactionary bullcrap, and build a pious and helpful community.

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #164 on: April 19, 2017, 11:24:36 AM »


As a mild baptist. This my response to nimbus's bullshit...

I don't really need to debate things here on the internet, largely because I've had these discussion with a hardcore athiest at my D&D group and we usually joke and poke fun. Nobody has ever changed their world view based on an internet forum debate, because most will instantly look up a site that confirms their biases.

I just wanted to throw my two cents in because Zelots bug me.

It's also why the christian churches that are growing are the ones who turn away from this clickbait reactionary bullcrap, and build a pious and helpful community.

I gotta +1 this. :)

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #165 on: April 19, 2017, 11:28:38 AM »
Eeeeh...kinda? I mean, I get that most people won't change their minds, but personally, I have these discussions because I (mostly) enjoy them and find them interesting. I get what you're saying, but I do have to make note that I myself have often changed my position thanks to these debates, simply because I either realised that I wasn't as informed as I believed I was, or new information has been presented to me. In terms of religious debates? You're probably correct, but my ambition isn't to change peoples minds, necessarily, but to just have the dialogue for the dialogues sake. I find it interesting, and you never know; the next conversation might be the one that you look at and go "Huh, I think I've changed my mind."

I do TRY and keep things civil and friendly, but...sometimes I get carried away. >.>
I never MEAN offence, but sometimes I say things in a way that makes me come across that way. It's something I'm trying to work on. >.<

But I can only speak for myself there. :-3

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #166 on: April 19, 2017, 11:35:06 AM »
Eeeeh...kinda? I mean, I get that most people won't change their minds, but personally, I have these discussions because I (mostly) enjoy them and find them interesting. I get what you're saying, but I do have to make note that I myself have often changed my position thanks to these debates, simply because I either realised that I wasn't as informed as I believed I was, or new information has been presented to me. In terms of religious debates? You're probably correct, but my ambition isn't to change peoples minds, necessarily, but to just have the dialogue for the dialogues sake. I find it interesting, and you never know; the next conversation might be the one that you look at and go "Huh, I think I've changed my mind."

I do TRY and keep things civil and friendly, but...sometimes I get carried away. >.>
I never MEAN offence, but sometimes I say things in a way that makes me come across that way. It's something I'm trying to work on. >.<

But I can only speak for myself there. :-3

that's actually kinda cool, just... I'm tired of howling conversations on the internet by religious zelots and fanatical athiests. Ever try to explain that evolution doesn't explain conflict with religious tradition, and that both sides are simply arguing the symbolism of mankind's place in the universe. Or that both of them are using the word "theory" wrong...

Then the zelot screams "Yea that makes me right! (by taking words out of context)"
then the fanatic responds "nuh uh cuz (insert pop-culture science here)"

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #167 on: April 19, 2017, 11:39:01 AM »
that's actually kinda cool, just... I'm tired of howling conversations on the internet by religious zelots and fanatical athiests. Ever try to explain that evolution doesn't explain conflict with religious tradition, and that both sides are simply arguing the symbolism of mankind's place in the universe. Or that both of them are using the word "theory" wrong...

Then the zelot screams "Yea that makes me right! (by taking words out of context)"
then the fanatic responds "nuh uh cuz (insert pop-culture science here)"

Been there. I sympathize. Extremism and bullheadedness from any side never helps anyone, all it does it hurt everyone and only push more people deeper into the extremes.

Eeeeh...kinda? I mean, I get that most people won't change their minds, but personally, I have these discussions because I (mostly) enjoy them and find them interesting. I get what you're saying, but I do have to make note that I myself have often changed my position thanks to these debates, simply because I either realised that I wasn't as informed as I believed I was, or new information has been presented to me. In terms of religious debates? You're probably correct, but my ambition isn't to change peoples minds, necessarily, but to just have the dialogue for the dialogues sake. I find it interesting, and you never know; the next conversation might be the one that you look at and go "Huh, I think I've changed my mind."

I do TRY and keep things civil and friendly, but...sometimes I get carried away. >.>
I never MEAN offence, but sometimes I say things in a way that makes me come across that way. It's something I'm trying to work on. >.<

But I can only speak for myself there. :-3
I enjoy coming into this thread as well from time to time. It helps me avoid getting stuck in echo chambers and helping me be more balanced and fair. And sometimes I honestly see some good points. I just hate when someone comes in with bigotry and acts like they deserve a blowjob for being X,Y,Z, and then just goes around insulting people.

Its alright to have a discussion for intellectual purposes, to gain a better understanding of those on the other side of the fence. Or just to discuss your point of view. But you must always respect them. No one has the right to hate another just for being part of a group and no one deserves to be disrespected and mistreated when they have done nothing wrong.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #168 on: April 19, 2017, 11:43:39 AM »
that's actually kinda cool, just... I'm tired of howling conversations on the internet by religious zelots and fanatical athiests. Ever try to explain that evolution doesn't explain conflict with religious tradition, and that both sides are simply arguing the symbolism of mankind's place in the universe. Or that both of them are using the word "theory" wrong...

Then the zelot screams "Yea that makes me right! (by taking words out of context)"
then the fanatic responds "nuh uh cuz (insert pop-culture science here)"

Yeah, I getcha. But then, when you're in a conversation with that kinda person, just hit their points and think "They might not be taking this in, but the people READING / LISTENING might be." Y'know?


Been there. I sympathize. Extremism and bullheadedness from any side never helps anyone, all it does it hurt everyone and only push more people deeper into the extremes.
I enjoy coming into this thread as well from time to time. It helps me avoid getting stuck in echo chambers and helping me be more balanced and fair. And sometimes I honestly see some good points. I just hate when someone comes in with bigotry and acts like they deserve a blowjob for being X,Y,Z, and then just goes around insulting people.

*hopes you aren't talking about me*
>.>
<.<
>.>
:P :P

In all seriousness, echo chambers are almost always bad. They lead to close minded thinking and an inability to see other peoples side. And that is what leads to tensions between two groups; the impression that neither side really wants to listen.
It's horseshoe theory in full effect; the more extreme you get, the more like your opposite number you are, really.


Its alright to have a discussion for intellectual purposes, to gain a better understanding of those on the other side of the fence. Or just to discuss your point of view. But you must always respect them. No one has the right to hate another just for being part of a group and no one deserves to be disrespected and mistreated when they have done nothing wrong.

Well, I would argue that the person deserves respect, but the opinion doesn't necessarily. Like, if somebody came in and wanted to argue that the earth was flat and rode through space on the back of a turtle, the person should be respected as a person, but the opinion should not be given the same level of respect as every other opinion, y'know?

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #169 on: April 19, 2017, 12:22:43 PM »
*hopes you aren't talking about me*
>.>
<.<
>.>
:P :P

No, you are fine :)

Quote
In all seriousness, echo chambers are almost always bad. They lead to close minded thinking and an inability to see other peoples side. And that is what leads to tensions between two groups; the impression that neither side really wants to listen.
It's horseshoe theory in full effect; the more extreme you get, the more like your opposite number you are, really.

It also leads to the eventual problem of dehumanizing those on the other side and seeing them less like people, with love, pain, lives. It becomes so much easier to see them as just 'those people.' and that just leads to even more problems.

When you break down the words of so many extremists and the like, its all really the same thing over and over again, just with the names switched around.

Quote
Well, I would argue that the person deserves respect, but the opinion doesn't necessarily. Like, if somebody came in and wanted to argue that the earth was flat and rode through space on the back of a turtle, the person should be respected as a person, but the opinion should not be given the same level of respect as every other opinion, y'know?

*nods* yeah to an extent. Depends on the situation and the person/opinion they hold and how far they are on the extremism horseshoe. :P

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #170 on: April 19, 2017, 12:43:29 PM »


As a mild baptist. This my response to nimbus's bullshit...

I don't really need to debate things here on the internet, largely because I've had these discussion with a hardcore athiest at my D&D group and we usually joke and poke fun. Nobody has ever changed their world view based on an internet forum debate, because most will instantly look up a site that confirms their biases.

I just wanted to throw my two cents in because Zelots bug me.

It's also why the christian churches that are growing are the ones who turn away from this clickbait reactionary bullcrap, and build a pious and helpful community.

I find it humorous that in the same breath as the words 'zealots bug me' we get a masturbatory self-congratulation.


Well, I would argue that the person deserves respect, but the opinion doesn't necessarily. Like, if somebody came in and wanted to argue that the earth was flat and rode through space on the back of a turtle, the person should be respected as a person, but the opinion should not be given the same level of respect as every other opinion, y'know?

Well I'm glad this isn't an echo chamber since we're both on the same side but I disagree with you about this. Actually, let me phrase it in the form of questions.

-At what point do their delusional beliefs constitute a legitimate mental health concern? Does respect still have any bearing on the situation when it's that serious? I mean, I loved my grandmother but I didn't respect her, especially when she spoke in tongues.

-If a person is an entirely different person before and after losing their faith (I am, and I know I'm not alone there), which one am I respecting? If one could be considered a separate identity (such as meeting someone who is drunk rather than meeting them when they're sober) then does respect even enter the equation with this disconnect?

I seriously agonized over how to phrase these for an hour to make them as mild of a perceived offense as possible since I know getting it down to 0 is impossible. I just feel that giving respect is more problematic than helpful in many dealings and the level of it that should be afforded, in the myriad situations that need to be addressed, is so ambiguous that respect itself becomes yet another issue to compound the problem.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 12:45:45 PM by Mathim »

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #171 on: April 19, 2017, 01:06:22 PM »
-At what point do their delusional beliefs constitute a legitimate mental health concern? Does respect still have any bearing on the situation when it's that serious? I mean, I loved my grandmother but I didn't respect her, especially when she spoke in tongues.

I would say when it becomes a danger to themselves/to others?

I respect a person's right to their faith but if they use that as an excuse not to take their kid to cancer treatments or other similar needs, I wont bat an eye if the kid is taken by CPS.

Quote
-If a person is an entirely different person before and after losing their faith (I am, and I know I'm not alone there), which one am I respecting? If one could be considered a separate identity (such as meeting someone who is drunk rather than meeting them when they're sober) then does respect even enter the equation with this disconnect?

Depends on the extent/circmstances. Were they a drug addict before who went clean or a calm and logical person who became a raving extremist? Its not a simple black and white, have to identify the shades of gray.

Quote
I seriously agonized over how to phrase these for an hour to make them as mild of a perceived offense as possible since I know getting it down to 0 is impossible. I just feel that giving respect is more problematic than helpful in many dealings and the level of it that should be afforded, in the myriad situations that need to be addressed, is so ambiguous that respect itself becomes yet another issue to compound the problem.

Which is how it shroud be. People make choices and judgments on the fly as of late, condemning others on a whim. We need to think on our words, our actions, more than we do. But that takes effort and people aren't always willing to put on another's shoes or look deeper behind who or what they are.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #172 on: April 19, 2017, 01:28:22 PM »
So, a point to debate over that I've wondered from an earlier exchange here, about 'does religion/faith offer anything good at all?'.

Some churches do charity/outreach type programs towards the poor, homeless, and assorted missionary programs into poverty-stricken regions or countries, helping people out financially+materially while simultaneously using that as a bridge and/or gateway drug into their religion.

Setting the material benefits of charity aside, because non-theistic charities also exist and are equally effective on that front, here's the question to ponder. Does having faith/hope in the existence of an afterlife psychologically benefit people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder? Particularly in third-world regions where social services are non-existent and the possibility of ever seeing a significant+permanent improvement in the quality of life for you/your family is quite low - is giving them the belief that perseverance through this life, however miserable it might be at times, will be rewarded with an eternity of paradise a positive thing? Or is it just a cruel false hope to promise them something that no one has any concrete guarantees will actually be delivered?
« Last Edit: April 19, 2017, 01:29:46 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #173 on: April 19, 2017, 01:39:55 PM »
So, a point to debate over that I've wondered from an earlier exchange here, about 'does religion/faith offer anything good at all?'.

Some churches do charity/outreach type programs towards the poor, homeless, and assorted missionary programs into poverty-stricken regions or countries, helping people out financially+materially while simultaneously using that as a bridge and/or gateway drug into their religion.

Does it really matter so long as people are not being abused/denied services and the impoverished are getting the food/medicine/care they need?

Quote
Setting the material benefits of charity aside, because non-theistic charities also exist and are equally effective on that front, here's the question to ponder. Does having faith/hope in the existence of an afterlife psychologically benefit people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder? Particularly in third-world regions where social services are non-existent and the possibility of ever seeing a significant+permanent improvement in the quality of life for you/your family is quite low - is giving them the belief that perseverance through this life, however miserable it might be at times, will be rewarded with an eternity of paradise a positive thing? Or is it just a cruel false hope to promise them something that no one has any concrete guarantees will actually be delivered?

This actually fascinates me. Id personally say, again, it depends on the person. Though perhaps this might be something more for a Sociologist to look at.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #174 on: April 19, 2017, 02:08:50 PM »
Does having faith/hope in the existence of an afterlife psychologically benefit people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder? Particularly in third-world regions where social services are non-existent and the possibility of ever seeing a significant+permanent improvement in the quality of life for you/your family is quite low - is giving them the belief that perseverance through this life, however miserable it might be at times, will be rewarded with an eternity of paradise a positive thing? Or is it just a cruel false hope to promise them something that no one has any concrete guarantees will actually be delivered?

Have to point this out - if they die and there isn't an eternity of paradise, (and more specifically, if there is no afterlife at all) they aren't going to be capable of being 'let down'.   ;)

On the flip side of that, though, you might be interested in reading a book called 'Things Fall Apart', which deals with just the sort of scenario you're talking about.  (Tribal society visited by missionaries, low chance of upward mobility, if any.)  Little Oni read it in her Communications Arts English class, and I got to hear the highlights.  I don't think it comes to a conclusion about it, per se, but it does have some interesting insights.  It's geared for the high school reading level, so it should be maybe an evening's entertainment for anyone here.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #175 on: April 19, 2017, 02:49:14 PM »
So, a point to debate over that I've wondered from an earlier exchange here, about 'does religion/faith offer anything good at all?'.

Some churches do charity/outreach type programs towards the poor, homeless, and assorted missionary programs into poverty-stricken regions or countries, helping people out financially+materially while simultaneously using that as a bridge and/or gateway drug into their religion.

Setting the material benefits of charity aside, because non-theistic charities also exist and are equally effective on that front, here's the question to ponder. Does having faith/hope in the existence of an afterlife psychologically benefit people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder? Particularly in third-world regions where social services are non-existent and the possibility of ever seeing a significant+permanent improvement in the quality of life for you/your family is quite low - is giving them the belief that perseverance through this life, however miserable it might be at times, will be rewarded with an eternity of paradise a positive thing? Or is it just a cruel false hope to promise them something that no one has any concrete guarantees will actually be delivered?

I would imagine that that specific strand of being religious - belief in an afterlife - is impossible to separate from everything else that comes with it.  I don't think one could really give the sort of quantised "well, the sense of community makes me happy, the routine makes me very happy, the belief in an afterlife makes me slightly unhappy, the belief in a loving god makes me somewhat happy" etc - or not with any degree of reliability at least.  Separating that effect out from the package of which it is part seems like a non-starter to me.

Offline Ironwolf85

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #176 on: April 19, 2017, 03:31:13 PM »
So, a point to debate over that I've wondered from an earlier exchange here, about 'does religion/faith offer anything good at all?'.

Some churches do charity/outreach type programs towards the poor, homeless, and assorted missionary programs into poverty-stricken regions or countries, helping people out financially+materially while simultaneously using that as a bridge and/or gateway drug into their religion.

Setting the material benefits of charity aside, because non-theistic charities also exist and are equally effective on that front, here's the question to ponder. Does having faith/hope in the existence of an afterlife psychologically benefit people at the very bottom of the socioeconomic ladder? Particularly in third-world regions where social services are non-existent and the possibility of ever seeing a significant+permanent improvement in the quality of life for you/your family is quite low - is giving them the belief that perseverance through this life, however miserable it might be at times, will be rewarded with an eternity of paradise a positive thing? Or is it just a cruel false hope to promise them something that no one has any concrete guarantees will actually be delivered?
Things Fall Apart is a very good book, and yeah it ends with the main character (who is kinda obsessed with his own macho-manly image and is an asshole, a complex asshole, but an asshole nontheless. Such as beating his son to death for converting.) Dying as he tries to rally his tribe to war against the british, they don't heed his call, and he's executed. The local governor gives him, at best, a paragraph or a footnote in his own memoirs.

And Yes it does, from a purely social perspective most churches and other temples tend to provide the only social safety net in most places. (christian groups tend to put a big emphasis on this. though the methods and effectiveness varies.) Because of the social power they wield they can motivate people, and often act as the only source of basic education and education funding in most places.
One of the biggest things that people forget is that the big three also does, is provide basic human dignity. Christianity was a revolution in thought at the time. The idea that Biggie G loves everyone including the poor and the crippled, and places for example, the Emperor of Rome, and the Lowest Slave as equals in the afterlife gives humanity to even the poorest. Especially when the systems of economics and government seem to ignore such people or outright dehumanize them.

While anything's open to being exploited because humans are involved, the ability to make a person, any person, feel human, is a good thing.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #177 on: April 19, 2017, 04:20:49 PM »
I would imagine that that specific strand of being religious - belief in an afterlife - is impossible to separate from everything else that comes with it.  I don't think one could really give the sort of quantised "well, the sense of community makes me happy, the routine makes me very happy, the belief in an afterlife makes me slightly unhappy, the belief in a loving god makes me somewhat happy" etc - or not with any degree of reliability at least.  Separating that effect out from the package of which it is part seems like a non-starter to me.

Yeah, in practice they're heavily intertwined to the point of being inseparable. But philosophies like humanism can supply most of those other strands/components you mentioned, so if religion can offer anything positive that non-theistic philosophies can't, I figured it would be in that exclusive element. So it was worth proposing for discussion, at least.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #178 on: April 19, 2017, 04:34:17 PM »
Yeah, in practice they're heavily intertwined to the point of being inseparable. But philosophies like humanism can supply most of those other strands/components you mentioned, so if religion can offer anything positive that non-theistic philosophies can't, I figured it would be in that exclusive element. So it was worth proposing for discussion, at least.

Well, then we get in to a whole other kettle of fish.  Is the sense of community one receives as a humanist quantitatively the same as that of a Christian?  Hell, is the s-o-c one receives from being at my church the same as the one you get from being at yours, never mind other religions? 

If we accept that its impossible to actually definitively answer the question, though, my belief would be that it does offer some consolation.  Purely because when the vast majority of afterlife believing religions were developed then the living standard of people was closer to what we would now call that of the third world and if that belief hadn't been helpful and widely accepted then it probably wouldn't be now.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #179 on: April 20, 2017, 12:03:23 AM »
Well...the whole point of "What have you lost" is kind of perilously close to Pascals Wager. I mean, the options aren't "Either Christianity is right or there is no afterlife." I mean, if the Muslims are right, the Christians are all going to hell. :P

In terms of what it offers...it depends on the person. Some people I know say that they need that hope to get them through the bad times, whereas me personally...I dunno, I don't really care either way. Either I die and nothing happens - at which point I don't care - or something happens...and I see what it is. But honestly, it depends on what TYPE of afterlife you believe in; I mean, if I believed in Heaven and Hell, and I loved somebody who didn't believe in God...I wouldn't find the idea of them in hell very comforting. >.>

But I do have to note that without churches, good people would still get together to do good things; it isn't the religion specifically motivating good deeds, they're just good people...and in terms of the social safety net, some churches do offer that...but what happens when you leave that church? Suddenly, you no longer have that support in a lot of areas, and the weight of their social net can be turned against you if they're feeling particularly vindictive. And Churches are not the only place that offer a congregation place for people of similar interests; any club or team can offer that, it just so happens that religion is currently the most widespread. I mean, for me personally, my DnD group provides a better safety net than my local church did.
But then, I live(d) in England, where religion isn't really as big a deal as in the States. Hell, the Church of England is more secular than not these days. XD

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #180 on: April 20, 2017, 12:22:09 AM »
Well...the whole point of "What have you lost" is kind of perilously close to Pascals Wager. I mean, the options aren't "Either Christianity is right or there is no afterlife." I mean, if the Muslims are right, the Christians are all going to hell. :P

Probably not, actually.  This is more of a conversation for the Islam thread, but Christians are people of the book and won't end up in Jahannam (assuming they're "good" Christians).  (Some versions of) Christianity are the only major religion I can think of where non-members are automatically in hell (and as I intimate, that's not universal in Christianity).  So if you are Pascal's wagering to avoid hell, Christianity is probably your best bet.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #181 on: April 20, 2017, 12:24:40 AM »
Really? Because I've read the Qur'an, and since Christians (by its standards) worship Jesus as an aspect of God, that counts as polytheism by Islams standards, and they're going to Hell because of it.

But if you're taking that side of things, then actually Judaism would be the best bet, since it's based off of the only book the three Abrahamic religions actually agree on. :P

In any case Pascals Wager is still fundamentally flawed, since...well, there are about a thousand and one different religions, each one with its own version of Hell...which is why we need to establish which one - if any of them - is actually true. :P

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #182 on: April 20, 2017, 12:35:22 AM »
Really? Because I've read the Qur'an, and since Christians (by its standards) worship Jesus as an aspect of God, that counts as polytheism by Islams standards, and they're going to Hell because of it.

 Surah 98 (in relevant part).  "The polytheists" in that passage refers to non People of the Book, the Quran is pretty explicit about not seeing Christianity as polytheistic (or at least, not problematically polytheistic) and even includes a specific passage (too lazy to search, Surah 119 from memory but take that with a pinch of salt) in which Jesus is told by Allah "don't worry about he slight problems with polytheism in your followers, we're all good".  Not sure which passage you're referring to?

Quote
In any case Pascals Wager is still fundamentally flawed, since...well, there are about a thousand and one different religions, each one with its own version of Hell...which is why we need to establish which one - if any of them - is actually true. :P

Not really.  If we accept that they're all bad then which particular version of bad it is is pretty irrelevant when the choices are "going to a bad place or not", it'd only matter if the choice was "which bad place do you go to" which, as I say, isn't the case.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #183 on: April 20, 2017, 12:45:45 AM »
Surah 98 (in relevant part).  "The polytheists" in that passage refers to non People of the Book, the Quran is pretty explicit about not seeing Christianity as polytheistic (or at least, not problematically polytheistic) and even includes a specific passage (too lazy to search, Surah 119 from memory but take that with a pinch of salt) in which Jesus is told by Allah "don't worry about he slight problems with polytheism in your followers, we're all good".  Not sure which passage you're referring to?

Qur'an 3:85 states that "whoever desires other than Islam as religion - never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers." Seems pretty clear to me that anybody who isn't a Muslim isn't gonna get into their clubhouse. :P
Also, 2:62:
"Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians [before Prophet Muhammad] - those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve."
There it specifies that people before Muhammad who were Christians or Jews get in, which implies that people after Muhammad have to believe in Muhammad as a Prophet too, or they get denied.


Not really.  If we accept that they're all bad then which particular version of bad it is is pretty irrelevant when the choices are "going to a bad place or not", it'd only matter if the choice was "which bad place do you go to" which, as I say, isn't the case.

I don't think we're all bad, though. Humans aren't all bad or all good; we're complex creatures, and some of us are better or worse than others. As it is, if there's an afterlife, I want to know about it...but I also want to know which one it is. If we're going with Pascal's Wager, which is "If you believe and you're wrong, what have you lost?" Well, what if you believed in Jesus or Muhammad, and the Jews were right? Or you were a Jew, and it was actually the Vikings who got it right and because you didn't die in battle, you're going to Hel? There are more than just two options, which is why PW is fundamentally flawed as an argument. The point is that every religion that has one has specific criteria for getting into their version of the afterlife (or getting a good next life, in some cases) and many of them directly conflict. Therefore, it's impossible to live in such a way that if you die and there's an afterlife, you're 100% guaranteed to get in regardless of who's actually right. So therefore, the question of which version of bad it is does become relevant, since particularly by the words of Jesus, anybody who doesn't accept him goes to hell. Well, you can't accept him as The Word The Truth and The Light and simultaneously accept the Jewish view that he wasn't the Messiah.

So the question of "which version of bad it is" is anything BUT irrelevant when trying to get into an afterlife, since you need to know which standards you're trying to meet.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #184 on: April 20, 2017, 12:52:57 AM »
Hmmm.  Not sure how good faith that was?  Hoping it's innocent, but plucking sentences out of context is pretty poor show, Vergil.  Read 3:84, literally the verse before, in which it states that there is no distinction made between followers of Moses and Jesus and the Muslims.  3:85 isn't referring to people of the book.

Offline Vergil Tanner

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #185 on: April 20, 2017, 12:56:23 AM »
Well, it has been a while since I read it. I remember bits and pieces. I remembered the passage, but it's possible (or probable) that I just forgot the bit before it. >.> Or I was tired and skimming when I got to that bit. XD
Either way, not intentional.

But in any case, it isn't like it actually matters, since Islam is just as unproven and baseless as Christianity as far as I'm concerned, so for me, it's kind of like saying "Which Fairy Tale do you want to hear before bed?" XD

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #186 on: April 20, 2017, 10:14:01 AM »
Why is religion always given a pass because 'it has the potential to do good'? If one medication has the ability to treat one's symptoms with no side effects, why would you take one that treats symptoms but has tons of side effects instead? If religion is not uniquely able to do something that no other system is capable of, then saying its potential to do good is irrelevant. We discard outdated technology and traditions routinely, but faith is the sole thing we haven't learned to evolve beyond and it's never for good reasons that it's stuck around. Lying to children, indoctrination, wars; if that's what it takes to perpetuate it then how can anyone honestly defend it?

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #187 on: April 20, 2017, 01:29:40 PM »
Well, it has been a while since I read it. I remember bits and pieces. I remembered the passage, but it's possible (or probable) that I just forgot the bit before it. >.> Or I was tired and skimming when I got to that bit. XD
Either way, not intentional.

But in any case, it isn't like it actually matters, since Islam is just as unproven and baseless as Christianity as far as I'm concerned, so for me, it's kind of like saying "Which Fairy Tale do you want to hear before bed?" XD

You remembered the Surah and Verse and quoted it word for word but didn't remember the immediately preceding verse at all?  *shrugs*  Fair enough.

I sometimes find your arguments a little hard to follow so let me check if I've got this right:  You believe that Pascal's wager (be that a positive version where one gets to a desirable place after death or a negative where one avoids an undesirable one) is fundamentally flawed because you believe there are at least two - and maybe more - religions whose criteria for going/not going are mutually incompatible such that it is impossible to satisfy both the requirements for going to a good place or, in the specific argument you made, avoiding the bad place in one necessitates going to the bad place in another.  As such (while it doesn't matter to you personally as you don't believe in either of those places in any form) you believe that religious people have to be certain which good and/or bad place exists in order to tailor their behavior towards that? Have I got that right? Because...you seem to have missed the point of Pascal's Wager somewhat in that.  That's not what he was arguing at all.  In fact, he was arguing the exact opposite of what I think is the point you're ascribing to him.

For the recordy problem with the wager is to do with expected valie: if the reward is infinite bliss then it would be appropriate to devote all of your resources during life to arriving at the "correct" answer as any amount of effort during life is cheap compared to the potential rewards (Pascal goes on to make a broadly similar point, actually) - this is a variation of the St Petersburg Paradox really.  As no one has ever done this, the wager  - even given your treatment of it - is inapplicable to everyday life.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #188 on: April 20, 2017, 02:28:58 PM »
You remembered the Surah and Verse and quoted it word for word but didn't remember the immediately preceding verse at all?  *shrugs*  Fair enough.

I sometimes find your arguments a little hard to follow so let me check if I've got this right:  You believe that Pascal's wager (be that a positive version where one gets to a desirable place after death or a negative where one avoids an undesirable one) is fundamentally flawed because you believe there are at least two - and maybe more - religions whose criteria for going/not going are mutually incompatible such that it is impossible to satisfy both the requirements for going to a good place or, in the specific argument you made, avoiding the bad place in one necessitates going to the bad place in another.  As such (while it doesn't matter to you personally as you don't believe in either of those places in any form) you believe that religious people have to be certain which good and/or bad place exists in order to tailor their behavior towards that? Have I got that right? Because...you seem to have missed the point of Pascal's Wager somewhat in that.  That's not what he was arguing at all.  In fact, he was arguing the exact opposite of what I think is the point you're ascribing to him.

For the recordy problem with the wager is to do with expected valie: if the reward is infinite bliss then it would be appropriate to devote all of your resources during life to arriving at the "correct" answer as any amount of effort during life is cheap compared to the potential rewards (Pascal goes on to make a broadly similar point, actually) - this is a variation of the St Petersburg Paradox really.  As no one has ever done this, the wager  - even given your treatment of it - is inapplicable to everyday life.

Yeah, let's just ignore the fact that a person can't force themselves to believe in something, only to behave in such a way that conforms with whatever system they happen to be betting on at the dog track; if belief is a criteria that automatically makes anyone skeptically rational ineligible for salvation, ergo the wager is useless. Whether that's the intent or not, it's still bogus.

If he's trying to equate belief with disbelief as both being unreasonable positions, he's an even bigger jackass than ever. The default position is 'show me or shut the fuck up' and yet Pascal's argument seems to be that that is just as irrelevant and irrational as faith. It's like Matt Dillahunty is always saying, what the hell is people's problem with 'I don't know'?

I don't understand how someone can fail to see the wager fall apart at literally every turn. Even within the same religion you have different beliefs about your eternal fate and what will get you to one or the other, let alone religions completely different than the most popular one. The only appropriate use of 'infinite' in the wager is not in regard to reward or suffering, but in the number of different possibilities of afterlives and methods to get to them.

Offline Oniya

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #189 on: April 20, 2017, 03:57:14 PM »
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

Offline Lustful Bride

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #190 on: April 20, 2017, 04:04:11 PM »
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

Social Media probably....given how people throw tantrums on there over the slightest things and the most insane of shit on it....id probably just go like in the wilds of Alaska away from humanity. :P
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 04:05:54 PM by Lustful Bride »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #191 on: April 20, 2017, 05:13:17 PM »
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

The trend seems to be that the government/state fills the void.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #192 on: April 20, 2017, 09:10:22 PM »
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

Why assume there's a vacuum there or that people are too weak to see beyond that? Unless their entire life revolves around it, there honestly wouldn't be much change at all. People have other interests besides churchy junk (and nothing that goes on there is anything that can't be done elsewhere and revolving around any other theme; it's almost no different than changing wallpaper if you think about it) so they'd just do all that stuff more. Or they'd learn new things or develop new interests with whatever time they no longer devote to that; there really can be nothing but benefit for those who aren't using it as an opportunistic means of exploiting others. If a person is such that they'd lose all sense of identity then that just further shows how destructive religion is if it holds your entire life hostage like that. But I would be amazed if enough people to even generate a human interest story were in that category.

That also doesn't address the actual social upheaval. With no defense of all the senselessness and harm it's caused, organizations like the Vatican can finally be brought to justice and get no sympathy from the gullible or hide behind their ill-gotten profits. It would no longer be automatically socially acceptable to remain ignorant or spread ignorance to others. Abdication of one's responsibilities because of a perceived forgiving father figure or promise of salvation in exchange for nothing but blind belief would no longer be looked upon as noble or be the majority opinion. Once a person stares into the void of their own ignorance that they imposed upon themselves, the awakening will be massive. If there is indeed a vacuum big enough to need filling beyond one's casual interests, education would surely be a major use of that wasted space.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 09:14:57 PM by Mathim »

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #193 on: April 20, 2017, 11:45:15 PM »
Quote
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

Some people would do just fine.  There are already people who do fine without it.  Some people, whose psychology is tightly interwoven with their religion, would likely have a very hard time without that mental pillar there.  Many would adjust and deal with it.  Some would probably react badly.  There's a lot of variety in humanity.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 08:55:27 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #194 on: April 21, 2017, 12:02:06 AM »
Julia Sweeney's Letting Go of God is actually quite nice, I think those wanting to but are afraid or conflicted about leaving their faith would benefit from seeing it.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #195 on: April 21, 2017, 12:15:46 AM »
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

If that was to happen, one would realize that there is no vacuum. It would be like that point when the child screams that the Emperor is naked and the crowd is awestruck by the simple, obvious truth in plain view. What does exist, and my impression (referring to the part of the world where I live) is that institutionalized religion likes to feeds upon it ravenously, is the innate darkness of one's mind. The only way to lift that darkness is through education, but it is an effort that would stretch over the course of many generations if you want it to have a lasting and healthy impact on an entire society.

Offline Trevino

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #196 on: April 21, 2017, 12:42:34 AM »
So here's a question that I never see answered:

If all religious institutions were to spontaneously disappear, what would fill the vacuum?  Is there any comparable social institution that would 'step in'?

I would say that Eric Hoffer's The True Believer would be a good place to start. In particular, he points out that all religions find their origins in mass movements and/or cults, much like social or political movements. And furthermore, that what matters is not the actual content of the beliefs or doctrines themselves, but rather the psychological profile of its adherents.

So, if all religious institutions were to disappear overnight, most likely a new one will just spontaneously form to take its place. Whether it is successful will of course depend on a number of factors (i.e. basically dependent on how quickly it can gain political power and dominance over competing beliefs, and how good it is in retaining converts).
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 12:49:31 AM by Trevino »

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #197 on: April 21, 2017, 07:23:47 PM »
And again-if religion does the disservice to its adherents of convincing them that their lives are meaningless without it-that's just another crime to lay at its feet and good riddance to it. If it has created the condition where people feel an emptiness they've imposed upon themselves (basically creating a fabricated illness so it can sell the phony cure) then they might go through a smoker's withdrawal sort of thing, likely some depression, but again, if religion had not created this unjust, inhumane condition in people in the first place, there wouldn't be that problem once it was stricken. So the only problems would occur because of what an even bigger problem religion was in the first place. Luckily, reality has plenty to offer to fill any voids and any really honest person won't pretend they don't see that and that they're fully capable of embracing it.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #198 on: April 21, 2017, 07:46:07 PM »
Why the hatred, Mathim?  There are other people in this thread who've openly identified as some flavour of anti-theist but none of them seem to have the fiery burning passion about it that you do.  Is this just an artefact of you having a more emotional writing style?  Because it doesn't look like that to me.  It looks like you have really surpassed everyone else in your, well, hatred and I'm genuinely curious as to why.  It can't possibly be making you happy, or even be particularly good for you, and sometimes (not always) it makes your arguments weak because you're kinda blinded by this rage. 

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #199 on: April 21, 2017, 08:50:54 PM »
Why the hatred, Mathim?  There are other people in this thread who've openly identified as some flavour of anti-theist but none of them seem to have the fiery burning passion about it that you do.  Is this just an artefact of you having a more emotional writing style?  Because it doesn't look like that to me.  It looks like you have really surpassed everyone else in your, well, hatred and I'm genuinely curious as to why.  It can't possibly be making you happy, or even be particularly good for you, and sometimes (not always) it makes your arguments weak because you're kinda blinded by this rage.

What astonishes me is why more people don't feel the way I do.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #200 on: April 21, 2017, 08:51:52 PM »
I imagine so, yes.  But in answer to my question?

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #201 on: April 21, 2017, 09:07:10 PM »
I can't speak for Mathim, but I can understand the reason for anger.  Much like any minority that is maltreated by a dominant majority, resentment is going to be generated among some members of the minority.  I've been fortunate enough to experience being in a majority as well as a minority in my life.  This has developed my sense of empathy--emotional intelligence, really--and that, I feel, is an often overlooked segment of human intellect.

Really, being smarter would improve the human condition worldwide.  Specifically, though, emotional intelligence and empathy would probably go further to making the world a more understanding and peaceful place.

Seeing injustice and maltreatment as an individual towards yourself or those you care for is going to breed anger and resentment in many, if not most, people.  I can handle a lot of it towards myself, for example, and not feel angry...but when I see my trans son treated like crap, that sets off an almost impossible-to-control hostility.  I've known a lot of people who are atheists who have similar hostility towards religion.  Not so much towards religious people in general...but individual religious people who are bigots can easily set off the anger.  Personally, I dislike most religions that I've studied for their propensity towards compartmentalizing and minimizing people who don't belong to their own group--but that same dislike can be said of most political organizations, or nationalistic groups, etc.  Really, I have a dislike of othering people.  Especially othering people based on a gut feeling or conditioning done before the age of reason, rather than an evidence-based reasons.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #202 on: April 21, 2017, 09:16:30 PM »
Yeah, there's certainly plenty of reasons to feel angry - that dislike for Othering is an excellent way to describe my own antipathy towards organized churches. But like Kythia, I had noticed the rather stark contrast between the general tone-of-posts of different people. It seems to be extremely, hyper-passionately personal for Mathim in a way it doesn't seem to be for, say, you or Virgil, and have also been curious why, if not enough to specifically ask.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #203 on: April 21, 2017, 09:24:45 PM »
Yeah, there's certainly plenty of reasons to feel angry - that dislike for Othering is an excellent way to describe my own antipathy towards organized churches. But like Kythia, I had noticed the rather stark contrast between the general tone-of-posts of different people. It seems to be extremely, hyper-passionately personal for Mathim in a way it doesn't seem to be for, say, you or Virgil, and have also been curious why, if not enough to specifically ask.

Yes, this is it precisely.  Obviously though, Mathim, no one is asing you to spill your guts in an open thread to people you don't know.  If it is super personal then I don't want you to feel hounded or anything - it really never occurred to me to give that caveat when i asked originally, sorry about that.

However, this:

I can't speak for Mathim, but I can understand the reason for anger.  Much like any minority that is maltreated by a dominant majority, resentment is going to be generated among some members of the minority.  I've been fortunate enough to experience being in a majority as well as a minority in my life.  This has developed my sense of empathy--emotional intelligence, really--and that, I feel, is an often overlooked segment of human intellect.

Really, being smarter would improve the human condition worldwide.  Specifically, though, emotional intelligence and empathy would probably go further to making the world a more understanding and peaceful place.

Seeing injustice and maltreatment as an individual towards yourself or those you care for is going to breed anger and resentment in many, if not most, people.  I can handle a lot of it towards myself, for example, and not feel angry...but when I see my trans son treated like crap, that sets off an almost impossible-to-control hostility.  I've known a lot of people who are atheists who have similar hostility towards religion.  Not so much towards religious people in general...but individual religious people who are bigots can easily set off the anger.  Personally, I dislike most religions that I've studied for their propensity towards compartmentalizing and minimizing people who don't belong to their own group--but that same dislike can be said of most political organizations, or nationalistic groups, etc.  Really, I have a dislike of othering people.  Especially othering people based on a gut feeling or conditioning done before the age of reason, rather than an evidence-based reasons.

is interesting (and thanks for answering).

It seems one could split your atheism from your anti-theism (and rename "anti-theism" to something more appropriate) then?  Let's say, to pick one at random, the Catholic God exists.  In precisely the way the Pope says He does.  Clearly it would be possible for that to be the case and the Catholic Church not to exist (for example, in Oniya's hypothetical the disappearance of every religious institution wouldn't affect the existence or otherwise of the God any more than the disappearance of every person who knew where my house was would affect the existence of my house).   Am I right in thinking that the "anti" part of your label is actually about the social impact of religion, then, rather than being hostile to the idea of gods per se?

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #204 on: April 21, 2017, 09:32:01 PM »
Quote
Am I right in thinking that the "anti" part of your label is actually about the social impact of religion, then, rather than being hostile to the idea of gods per se?

That would be it exactly.  I'm not anti-theist about all religions--the harmless ones, like Jainism or Paganism that don't suppress women's rights or deny the poor the right to seek an improvement in this life.  Perhaps anti-theism suffers from its own name, much how feminism does--'Feminism?  That sounds like you only agree with females, and are against males!'

If people practiced their religion to an extent that laws were never enacted to prefer one group of people over another, or prevented certain minority populations from being stigmatized because their religious texts told them to...well, I'd have no problem with most religions, then.  For most of the world's large religions, though, I see the same structure as any new cult, just writ over the centuries--'we have the only cure for a disease we're telling you that you have...and if you don't accept it, our deity will punish you.'

I'm not a strong atheist.  I could be wrong.  A deity could exist. However, from my perspective, it seems folly to choose to worship or believe in any particular deity, especially one you were raised to believe, simply because of the vast numbers of possible deities there are out there, many of which are diametrically opposed or contradictory.  I feel it is better to withhold judgement on the existence of any of them until acceptable evidence is presented that would verify one or another.  Now, realistically, I don't think any of that evidence is forthcoming or likely to ever occur, but it would be foolish to me--as a rational person--to deny the possibility of something without any likewise convincing evidence that it does not exist.  It just seems ridiculous to me to look at the multitudes of faithful followers of the myriad of gods over the millennia, and say one group of worshipers was more right than another, simply on the strength of their faith.  There is no way to measure faith, as it seems to me to mostly be based on personal emotional responses we all have in our own ways.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:40:12 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline Blythe

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #205 on: April 21, 2017, 09:35:58 PM »
Probably about to ramble. <_<

I know for me, I'm agnostic atheist, but I'm not an anti-theist. I generally find that mindset would leave me too closed to the possibility of a deity existing and being presented of proof a deity (or deities) could exist. That's just for me, though--I'm sure others more easily can balance those two particular stances. I've just found I can't.

I do tend to have deep skepticism of religious institutional structures, but this isn't related to how I feel about an actual deity (or deities) existing. It's related to my generally skeptical nature about people who co-opt such institutions as a form of harmful social control. Which at its core has to do with a willingness of worshipers to accept harmful irrational beliefs.

I'm probably unusual in that I've had bad experiences with religious individuals & institutions...but also really good ones. A local Presbyterian church my father attends had an interesting sermon about doubt--they are aware I'm an atheist and actually encouraged me to doubt them and question them--I've been known to attend with my father simply as a courtesy since he doesn't like going alone, though he knows I don't believe in any of it. I'm not out as trans to most of them, but they also gave out some interesting pamphlets about accepting trans individuals without any caveats trying to other or shame trans individuals.

It was certainly a strange but interesting experience well outside my experiences with other churches that was well outside the norms familiar to me. Many of my experiences with religion before that point were ones that were hostile, with individuals treating me poorly. I still wonder how much of that Presbyterian encounter was because of the institutionalized structure of that church vs. how much of it was just the individuals that made up that particular local church, if that makes sense. The pamphlet they distributed was one that had some funding from elsewhere, not the local place I visited.

I think it's probably experiences like the Presbyterian one that have generally kept me from saying all religions are harmful or any other such blanket statement. I've seen some good from them. Sure, I think that good could likely be accomplished by other means, but I don't necessarily feel that 100% detracts from the actual good some of them do.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:43:04 PM by Blythe »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #206 on: April 21, 2017, 09:42:39 PM »
Sure, I think that good could likely be accomplished by other means, but I don't necessarily feel that 100% detracts from the actual good some of them do.

Yeah, this argument comes up a fair amount and it's always seemed relatively weak to me.  You can learn everything you learn at school from textbooks, so we should abolish schools and let textbooks take their place!  Well, no.  Obviously not.  People are different and just because one route can give all the same benefits as another route doesn't, in itself, mean we should narrow our options down to just the one because that fails to take in to account that different routes suit different people/personalities better. Obviously that's a bit off topic for "atheism" per se - as I say, religions can cease to exist and that has no bearing on the existence of gods, but you started the rambling and you have a purple badge so I figure I'm not gonna get banned fro continuing the diversion. ;D

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #207 on: April 21, 2017, 09:47:15 PM »
I'm not sure who brought it up, but what sense is there in hating the actual gods of a religion? That's like hating Voldemort. The underlying mindset of religion (dogma, faith) is an unhealthy, unsound position in the first place whether or not it holds any truth. Yet I hear debate after debate about whether or not it's reasonable-that's not even a question. Or that it does people good even if it's laughably preposterous. The lengths to which its parasitic tendrils have dug into people's minds is way, way past alarming.

Also I wouldn't call Jainism 'harmless', if it means you watch your family murdered in front of you because you believe you should never bring harm to another for any reason, even in defense or your own life or the lives of others.

Yeah, this argument comes up a fair amount and it's always seemed relatively weak to me.  You can learn everything you learn at school from textbooks, so we should abolish schools and let textbooks take their place!  Well, no.  Obviously not.  People are different and just because one route can give all the same benefits as another route doesn't, in itself, mean we should narrow our options down to just the one because that fails to take in to account that different routes suit different people/personalities better. Obviously that's a bit off topic for "atheism" per se - as I say, religions can cease to exist and that has no bearing on the existence of gods, but you started the rambling and you have a purple badge so I figure I'm not gonna get banned fro continuing the diversion. ;D

First, thanks for reconsidering how your previous question might have sounded without the caveat (though I felt it was implied anyway).

The issue you outlined above, however, neglects in full the harmful effect of religion. Educational methods do vary in success for different people but you can't say any of them are BAD or even have the potential to be. Religion doesn't have that luxury nor a clean slate to just squeak by as a means of doing good on par with any other. That's the problem, this is overlooked every time because of how people are conditioned. Frustrates the fuck out of me. Does that kind of help with getting at why this is such a toxic subject? Hitchens didn't even need to say that he wasn't exaggerating when he titled his book Religion Poisons Everything.