You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
September 24, 2018, 04:45:34 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement  (Read 12458 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Kythia

  • My smile is like a breath of spring, My voice is soft like summer rain
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • And you can not compare with me: Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
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?

Offline HannibalBarcaTopic starter

  • Defiant General of Hopeless Causes * Henry Rollins for President campaigner * Mako-phile * Uncle Iroh in shades * Disciple of Dr. Cornel West * Roy Batty lives! *
  • Lord
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: At large, am tall. “I will either find a way, or make one.” -- Hannibal Barca
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
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

  • My smile is like a breath of spring, My voice is soft like summer rain
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • And you can not compare with me: Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
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?

Offline HannibalBarcaTopic starter

  • Defiant General of Hopeless Causes * Henry Rollins for President campaigner * Mako-phile * Uncle Iroh in shades * Disciple of Dr. Cornel West * Roy Batty lives! *
  • Lord
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: At large, am tall. “I will either find a way, or make one.” -- Hannibal Barca
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
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 »

Online 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

  • My smile is like a breath of spring, My voice is soft like summer rain
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • And you can not compare with me: Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
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.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:51:35 PM by Mathim »

Offline HannibalBarcaTopic starter

  • Defiant General of Hopeless Causes * Henry Rollins for President campaigner * Mako-phile * Uncle Iroh in shades * Disciple of Dr. Cornel West * Roy Batty lives! *
  • Lord
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: At large, am tall. “I will either find a way, or make one.” -- Hannibal Barca
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #208 on: April 21, 2017, 09:51:29 PM »
I've had many good experiences with religious individuals and groups.  I'm glad you've had positive ones too, Blythe.  I think most human beings are, at their core, good people.  I also believe human beings, in general, tend to go with the flow, and if that flow is comforting, even if it has some negative connotations for certain other individuals, they will overlook the bad to go along with the predominant good they receive from it.

In my own personal experience, my parents went from fairly moderate-to-liberal minded Catholics, who didn't accept the infallibility of the Pope, used birth control, and even thought priests should be able to be married and accept women in their ranks...to very serious evangelicals who believe homosexuality is evil and atheism is the worst of all sins--'blasphemy of the Holy Spirit'.  Having two grandchildren who are trans has softened them the smallest amount, but that slight softening is, in many ways, even worse, because it feels like only an accommodation, rather than an acceptance of two people they had always loved since birth.  It is true that not all religions are of a like mind.  The last religion I belonged to was the United Church of Christ, and our pastor, aside from being incredibly Liberal, also trained a new pastor who happened to be trans.  I had no fault with them as far as their acceptance and openness...I just didn't accept the divinity of Christ, or any person, or a deity, at all.

Quote
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.

No, in that case I wouldn't call it harmless, either, whether it causes harm directly or indirectly, much like denying a child a blood transfusion based on religious beliefs.  However, as often as Sam Harris brings up Jainism as an example of a religion that does not get worse as it becomes more extremist, it is one of the mildest of religions, and I think in most ways its benefits outweigh its costs.

Offline Kythia

  • My smile is like a breath of spring, My voice is soft like summer rain
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • And you can not compare with me: Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #209 on: April 21, 2017, 09:54:07 PM »
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.

You wouldn't call a religion harmless that forbids harm? Sorry, I get what you mean (though I disagree), the wording just made me chuckle. 

Anyhoo, Blythe - meant to mention in my response but forgot and now don't want to go back and edit - that's doctrine in the US Presbyterian church (which is what I assume you were in, the actual Presbyterian church believes transgender..ism(?) is a sexual sin)

Offline HannibalBarcaTopic starter

  • Defiant General of Hopeless Causes * Henry Rollins for President campaigner * Mako-phile * Uncle Iroh in shades * Disciple of Dr. Cornel West * Roy Batty lives! *
  • Lord
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: At large, am tall. “I will either find a way, or make one.” -- Hannibal Barca
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #210 on: April 21, 2017, 09:55:04 PM »
Quote
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

The subject I worry about--particularly in the United States--is that there is, to an extent, a vacuum that would be created without religion.  To many Americans, religion is not just about deity, it is also social and cultural.  A society needs a vehicle to pass on moral values and religion serves as the primary one in the U.S.  While a secular and humanist upbringing can instill moral values--my son is an example of this--I see children in my own classes who have neither sort of upbringing, and lack sound ethical judgement on many levels.  In this way, I often consider the idea that perhaps some religion is better than no ethical system at all.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:56:51 PM by HannibalBarca »

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #211 on: April 21, 2017, 09:59:28 PM »
You wouldn't call a religion harmless that forbids harm? Sorry, I get what you mean (though I disagree), the wording just made me chuckle. 

Anyhoo, Blythe - meant to mention in my response but forgot and now don't want to go back and edit - that's doctrine in the US Presbyterian church (which is what I assume you were in, the actual Presbyterian church believes transgender..ism(?) is a sexual sin)

Remember Bishop from Aliens? He could not bring harm, not allow by omission of action to allow to come to harm, any human being. So just by virtue of that second part of his statement, Bishop is (excepting the fact that he's an android and has no free will to disobey his programming) more moral than a Jain. So really, being a Jain means being a hypocrite by deciding that standing idle and watch others be brought to harm is moral to a greater degree than not willfully inflicting harm for even justifiable reasons. This is why moral absolutes or moral objectivity is so aggravating in debates.

The subject I worry about--particularly in the United States--is that there is, to an extent, a vacuum that would be created without religion.  To many Americans, religion is not just about deity, it is also social and cultural.  A society needs a vehicle to pass on moral values and religion serves as the primary one in the U.S.  While a secular and humanist upbringing can instill moral values--my son is an example of this--I see children in my own classes who have neither sort of upbringing, and lack sound ethical judgement on many levels.  In this way, I often consider the idea that perhaps some religion is better than no ethical system at all.

That being said so casually almost made me throw up in my mouth. Morals ONLY come from secular and humanist systems. Because no one is a true fundamentalist, no one is actually really getting their morals from a religious system (or if they do, it ceases to be moral because it's a command rather than a choice decided upon).
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 10:02:18 PM by Mathim »

Online Blythe

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #212 on: April 21, 2017, 09:59:39 PM »
Anyhoo, Blythe - meant to mention in my response but forgot and now don't want to go back and edit - that's doctrine in the US Presbyterian church (which is what I assume you were in, the actual Presbyterian church believes transgender..ism(?) is a sexual sin)

 I know back in 2014 individual US Presbyterian churches got permission to decide for themselves whether to officiate same-sex weddings. Back in 2010 LGBT people were eligible for ordination in the church.

Still, though, I suppose it does mean my experience was just a localized one after all, which saddens me.  :-(

Edit: I'm getting pretty off-topic, though, so I'll stop now.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 10:01:47 PM by Blythe »

Offline HannibalBarcaTopic starter

  • Defiant General of Hopeless Causes * Henry Rollins for President campaigner * Mako-phile * Uncle Iroh in shades * Disciple of Dr. Cornel West * Roy Batty lives! *
  • Lord
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: At large, am tall. “I will either find a way, or make one.” -- Hannibal Barca
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #213 on: April 21, 2017, 10:02:20 PM »
There is a comforting blanket that moral absolutism brings many people.  To me it feels more like an abrogation of their own will or mind, which should consider every event on a moral stand--situational ethics.  I'm quite comfortable standing in the grey middle, making my own decisions on what is right and wrong, rather than having it dictated to me by another human who claims to have had divine guidance.  For my own peace of mind, I need to be the arbiter of what is right and wrong, not someone else.

Offline Kythia

  • My smile is like a breath of spring, My voice is soft like summer rain
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • And you can not compare with me: Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #214 on: April 21, 2017, 10:04:11 PM »
Remember Bishop from Aliens? He could not bring harm, not allow by omission of action to allow to come to harm, any human being. So just by virtue of that second part of his statement, Bishop is (excepting the fact that he's an android and has no free will to disobey his programming) more moral than a Jain. So really, being a Jain means being a hypocrite by deciding that standing idle and watch others be brought to harm is moral to a greater degree than not willfully inflicting harm for even justifiable reasons. This is why moral absolutes or moral objectivity is so aggravating in debates.

No, that doesn't follow.  I haven't seen Aliens but I'm assuming you're referencing the Laws of Robotics and they would also forbid harming a human - the first part takes precedence.  Bishop couldn't defend his family in a way that brought harm either (again, going from the Laws of Robotics, not Bishop's specific implementation of them).  Jainists, on the other hand, are allowed to use violence in self-defense, that's a common misconception.  The concept is called Ahimsa


Offline HannibalBarcaTopic starter

  • Defiant General of Hopeless Causes * Henry Rollins for President campaigner * Mako-phile * Uncle Iroh in shades * Disciple of Dr. Cornel West * Roy Batty lives! *
  • Lord
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: At large, am tall. “I will either find a way, or make one.” -- Hannibal Barca
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #215 on: April 21, 2017, 10:05:35 PM »
Quote
That being said so casually almost made me throw up in my mouth. Morals ONLY come from secular and humanist systems. Because no one is a true fundamentalist, no one is actually really getting their morals from a religious system (or if they do, it ceases to be moral because it's a command rather than a choice decided upon).

I agree.  My point, though was that I see children who have neither a religious foundation that preached to them moral and ethical beliefs, nor the humanist system I espouse myself.  Their parents do not attend churches, but neither do they teach their children anything but the most amoral lessons of life lived for mere existence.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #216 on: April 21, 2017, 10:09:19 PM »
No, that doesn't follow.  I haven't seen Aliens but I'm assuming you're referencing the Laws of Robotics and they would also forbid harming a human - the first part takes precedence.  Bishop couldn't defend his family in a way that brought harm either (again, going from the Laws of Robotics, not Bishop's specific implementation of them).  Jainists, on the other hand, are allowed to use violence in self-defense, that's a common misconception.  The concept is called Ahimsa

But that pertains only to Bishop being an android and not a human. I was simply pointing out that sitting idle rather than preventing harm is not morally superior, and the absolutist ideal of complete nonviolence is flawed. A person can fully ignore the law of robotics and, upon those immediately guilty of harm to others (especially, one would think, against one's own loved ones) bring harm as a preventative measure; now, just how much harm is necessary to accomplish it is subjective and situational but if one wants to be more like Batman and take everyone alive, as long as it doesn't result in the loss of those who were only victims in the situation, would be more praiseworthy than the Punisher who would get the job done without a thought to sparing the lives of the instigators. That's the nice thing about being able to critically examine moral issues, and not adhere to an unshakeable doctrine. Obviously doing harm in general is not a good idea but never doing harm for any reason is naive and harmful in its own way. Almost every issue has its grey areas and that's where religion disagrees on almost every one of them, it's either black or white.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 10:15:18 PM by Mathim »

Offline Kythia

  • My smile is like a breath of spring, My voice is soft like summer rain
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • And you can not compare with me: Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #217 on: April 21, 2017, 10:20:28 PM »
But that pertains only to Bishop being an android and not a human. I was simply pointing out that sitting idle rather than preventing harm is not morally superior, and the absolutist ideal of complete nonviolence is flawed. A person can fully ignore the law of robotics and, upon those immediately guilty of harm to others (especially, one would think, against one's own loved ones) bring harm as a preventative measure; now, just how much harm is necessary to accomplish it is subjective and situational but if one wants to be more like Batman and take everyone alive, as long as it doesn't result in the loss of those who were only victims in the situation, would be more praiseworthy than the Punisher who would get the job done without a thought to sparing the lives of the instigators. That's the nice thing about being able to critically examine moral issues, and not adhere to an unshakeable doctrine. Obviously doing harm in general is not a good idea but never doing harm for any reason is naive and harmful in its own way. Almost every issue has its grey areas and that's where religion disagrees on almost every one of them, it's either black or white.

No, again.  Jainists are forbidden from certain types of violence and from performing violence in certain emotional states but not from violence per se, its not a matter of "never doing harm for any reason".  I see nothing terribly wrong with having a moral code.  I would imagine that not every Jainist follows it all of the time, but having an ideal moral state to aspire to doesn't strike me as particularly problematic.  "I want to be a good person where I define 'good' as living up to the following values: x, y, z"

Regardless.  I'm for the gym.  Bye.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #218 on: April 21, 2017, 10:32:55 PM »
No, again.  Jainists are forbidden from certain types of violence and from performing violence in certain emotional states but not from violence per se, its not a matter of "never doing harm for any reason".  I see nothing terribly wrong with having a moral code.  I would imagine that not every Jainist follows it all of the time, but having an ideal moral state to aspire to doesn't strike me as particularly problematic.  "I want to be a good person where I define 'good' as living up to the following values: x, y, z"

Regardless.  I'm for the gym.  Bye.

Seems unnecessary if they have their exceptions then, that's just logic. The point is, the necessity of being flexible which dogma generally prohibits, and sometimes even prohibits the questioning of it. Sam Harris pointed out that a certain philosophy of committing suicide to send a message to one's aggressors was actually suggested...the thought process behind that is horrifying but not altogether different than simply refusing to commit violence of any kind for any reason (except the only victim of said violence would be one's own self rather than letting someone else do it to them).
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 10:56:49 PM by Mathim »

Offline Noisekick

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #219 on: April 24, 2017, 03:19:49 PM »
Mandaeans are strictly pacifist.

Offline Mathim

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #220 on: April 25, 2017, 12:21:42 PM »
So if they saw some guerillas tackling their daughters and ripping their clothes off, and holding knives up to their necks, what's their reaction? I mean, how fucked up is it that I have to ask that question even when presented with a statement that at first glance seems so innocuous?

Online Regina Minx

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #221 on: February 07, 2018, 01:18:04 PM »
I gave serious thought about committing thread necromancy here before I consulted with HannibalBarca, the original author. He invited me to post on this thread to add another atheist voice interested in responding to questions and issues raised in this discussion, and perhaps to regenerate interest in the topic. Before I make any comment of note here, perhaps a slight introduction would serve the readers well, in the style of Hannibal’s opening post.

I am an atheist and a defender of the naturalist worldview, and a dedicated opponent of the abuse of logic and reason in support of supernatural creed. I am a mathematician by training and trade (my degree is in statistics, and I work for a tech company performing root cause analysis in quality assurance), an amateur historian by hobby (my special area of interest is the late Roman Republic and early Imperial period), and a philosopher by experience and practice.

Like Hannibal, I define my atheist to mean a lack of belief in any god or gods. The burden of proof is on anyone that would make the claim ‘a god exists’. In my experience thus far, no one I have encountered or read has been able to justify that claim without logically invalid methods or untrue or unverifiable facts argued in support of that conclusion. Depending on the context of the question or my mood when it’s argued, I may be motivated to go further than that and make the case for stronger atheism, and defend the claim that ‘no god exists’. But I don’t like to do that often, so unless I specifically state that I’m going to be defending strong or affirmative atheism, what I say when I call myself an atheist is that I don’t believe that any claim about god’s existence has satisfied its burden of proof.

 I do not think that agnosticism is a halfway ground between theism and atheism. Gnosticism and theism address two different questions, and they are not mutually exclusive. A person can be a gnostic theist or an agnostic atheist. Atheism and theism are properly dichotomous: you are either one or the other, and if your response to the question “Do you believe that a god exists?” is anything other than “yes”, you are an atheist. “I don’t know whether a god exists” is not a proper response to that question, since you are not being asked about your knowledge, but rather what you believe about that proposition.

“What DO you believe in, if you don’t believe in a god?” My lack of belief in god is just one part about me. It is literally my response to a single question. It’s probably not even the most interesting thing about me. If you got to know me, you would probably find out that you and I believe in many of the same things. You can infer many things about me on the basis of my atheism…but why not ask me instead of assuming them?

Online Regina Minx

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #222 on: February 07, 2018, 01:22:09 PM »
OK, as a theist, I'll take a bite... ;)

This is actually the post that had me interested in responding to this thread in the first place. While I don’t necessarily expect Strident to come back and hold forth on this, given how long ago he made the original comment, he did make an argument that I think it would be interesting to respond to. That being:

"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.


The argument presented is the Moral Argument for the Existence of God. William Lane Craig, Moreland, and others use it, and it’s worth discussing. Before I go further, though, I had to take a minute to reflect on exactly what was said. Strident…I’m not trying to No True Scotsman this, I swear, but may I ask what kind of atheists you know of that assert (1)? Because it seems unlikely to me that even if you had an atheist grant you the existence of god as a hypothetical or for the sake of argument, I would think that they’d missed a major opportunity to argue the point by granting the whole of (1).

For example, one way to respond to this would be to ask for a satisfactory demonstration of (1). Please demonstrate why god is necessary and sufficient to have objective moral values. What if god existed but there still were no objective moral values?

Anyway, that’s a digression but it’s something that I wondered about. Moving back to the argument as a whole, what we look for in deductive logic is both validity and soundness. If an argument is both valid and sound, then the conclusion must necessarily follow from the premises. To accept an argument as valid and sound but reject the conclusion is, by the very definition of what these words mean, irrational.

The Moral Argument for the Existence of God is a valid logical argument. It takes the form of a modus tollens (relying on some double negation to do so, but that’s all right).

Since the argument passes the validity test, we must therefore consider it in terms of its soundness. Here’s where we have the discussion. Because both (1) and (2) are not demonstrated to be true, they are asserted. And since the person making the Moral Argument is the one making the assertions, it is up to her to demonstrate that they are true.

Furthermore, not only must the person making the Moral Argument demonstrate (1) and (2), but she has to define them as well. What exactly do we mean when we reference an objective moral value?

Some people might say that objective moral values are objective in the sense that they’re not made up. That is, true whether we know or think or believe they’re true. This is objective in the sense that the speed of light in a vacuum is objectively c. In this view of morality, something is wrong because its inherent nature is wrong, regardless of what people say or think or believe about it. But I’m not taking for granted that this is what is meant, because someone else might say ‘objective’ to mean based on external authority, or not accessed through subjective experience. Objective in this sense means “you must be 4’2 to ride this ride.”  Morality in this case reduces to command. “Thou shalt not kill.” Why is it wrong? Against the rules, that’s why.

Yet another meaning of objective is in the sense of it being opposite of relative, and yet another meaning of an objective standard is that it is absolute and devoid of exceptions.

Before we could even let the proponent of Moral Arguments go on, we’d actually need to pin down what she meant by ‘Objective Moral Values.’ Because it’s a slippery term and I want to know exactly what is meant by that.

A full discussion of the various responses depending on what exactly (2) means would turn Hannibal’s thread into Regina Minx’s blog, and even though he’s graciously given me permission to talk here, I’m not going to abuse his hospitality thus far.

I will only go on further to say that, like premise (2), premise (1) is not demonstrated, merely asserted. The necessity of god for the existence of objective moral values is not established and needs itself to be demonstrated. Here, I suspect, is a trap for the theist. For the only response to the Euthyphro_dilemma that really lets the theist get away from the two very nasty horns of the dilemma is some variant on what apologist William Lane Craig argues: that That is that god's very nature is moral goodness and perfection, and that whatever he does and commands is good because it is a reflection of god's inherent moral character.

But did you see what just happened? We are now talking about objective moral values as an essential and inherent part of god’s moral character. And that’s a problem, because when we use that particular definition of morality in the context of the Moral Argument, we are actually begging the question. Not in the colloquial sense of posing a question, but assuming as true that which we are trying to prove in our argument. Let me rewrite the Moral Argument:

P1: If God does not exist, then an essential and inherent part of god’s character does not exist.
P2. An essential and inherent part of god’s character exists.
C. Therefore God exists.

You have assumed as true that which you are trying to prove, the existence of god (C is an implicit assumption of P2).

This is why it’s important to nail down a talk of definitions. At the outset, I said that the Moral Argument was logically sound. That only follows if the argument isn’t used to smuggle in the conclusion. To the extent that morality is not defined as some inherent nature of god’s character, it is answered by Euthyphro. To the extent that morality IS defined as some inherent nature of god’s character, we are no longer making the Moral Argument but the ontological argument. And I can see by your glazed expressions (hey, even I hate ontology) that we’re done here.

And just to circle back a little bit. If you are the one making the Moral Argument, it's on you to demonstrate both that absolute moral values in any sense of the phrase requires god, and that they actually exist. Don't ask me to grant you that assumption to help you make your argument.

Offline Arian Sinclair

  • {Halfling Fae}{Enby/NB: xe/xyr/xyrs pronoun set, gender neutral pronouns preferred}
  • Liege
  • Bacchae
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2018
  • Location: With y Tylwyth Teg
  • The dark let's us see what the light blinds us to.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #223 on: February 09, 2018, 11:21:45 AM »


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!

I feel that if you switch out atheist for Wiccan or any polytheistic religion/spirituality that it would be basically the same in some areas in regard to misunderstandings and how other people see them. I specifically mentioned Wicca because that is my spirituality. I'd known since a very early age —precocious you could say —that I did not believe the same as my Christian family members of what my religion classes taught me in Catholic school for the majority of my life. This is not to say that I had no interest in learning more about it or that I had no interest. I simply felt no connection to it all. I was extremely drawn to Wicca around the age of eight when I first discovered it and learned as much as I could, slowly but surely developing my own personal sense of what and to what extent I believed. I kept it hidden, secret from my peers and family for years. I am now very open about being Wiccan with the exception of to my family. I never felt ashamed of what I believe, merely kept it hidden from others out of necessity. I was bullied enough already back then and didn't need being told "You're wrong!" or "You're going to hell for that!" and other such things, to be judged so ironically by those who believed in a Bible that told them only their God was allowed judgement of others. The ridiculous hypocrisy I saw in the majority if not all of monotheistic religions, and even a good few pangan religions at that, is a backing to me in my decision not to believe the same as them. I even got fed up with that hypocrisy at one point and wrote a song alluding to it in high school that is stored in my Google Docs. I can relate to you on a level with this, and only to a certain extent because I am not an atheist. I believe and follow my own path and pass no judgement on others simply for what they believe in nor for expressing their beliefs. My beliefs are mine, and someone else's theirs. Do not push any belief not my own onto me, and I will remain docile on it. Passive aggressive comments showing negativity toward my own beliefs count as pushing in my opinion. Live and let live. Learn and acknowledge. That is what I believe. That is what I understand. My life is my on, and what I personally believe is a part of my life. Harm ye none, do as thou wilt. This is my creed. To push a particular belief on someone who does not believe the same is to cause unnecessary harm, is to cause feelings of shame and anxiety. The world could be a much better place if people would not fight over systems of beliefs, to even go so far as to kill another over it. Hell,I've been subject to people getting defensive and judgemental over my mentioning that I'm vegan when it is relevant to the situation because I do not eat a lot of what they would. People have an absurd tendency to cross over into such ridiculous reactions to a mere comment.

--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.

I get that a lot for being Pagan/Wiccan. No, the pentagram is not a fucking symbol of Satan or evil of other negative shit that people try to think up. It is a symbol of protection. It is because of when it is associated with the horned god(Pan or any other god who is depicted with horns upon his head) twisted over into mistaking that got as Satan that this full of shit myth came about. Do some damn research, that's all it takes. It is so easy to do just the minimal research necessary to know what any religion, spirituality, and/or symbol is thanks to Google and other search engines and the internet. Assuming that shit instead of at least questioning these ridiculous claims is what pisses me off. Rant over.

--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?

Like atheism, paganism also has variety in it. Christianity also has variety. I would have to dig into more research before claiming any others have variety to them. I believe paganism has the most variety to it with all the ways it can all be mixed and matched. Anyhow, the point of my mentioning this is the fact that athiesm being varied shouldn't be any more surprising than the fact that we exist and are alive. It is failure to look into things and ask and learn that a lot of people who are not atheists do not know or understand this in all its simplicity.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Ask an Atheist--An Opportunity for Engagement
« Reply #224 on: February 09, 2018, 12:28:51 PM »
Wouldn't paganism be the most varied by definition, since it in itself is sort of an umbrella term for pretty much any religious tradition outside of the Big Five - Christianity/Judaism/Islam/Hinduism/Buddhism? I've seen every cultural pantheon from Norse to Egyptian to Polynesian, plus nontheistic/semitheistic faiths like Wicca, all classified as 'paganism' to some degree.