Atheism

INT21

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Coal,

My own stance, being an atheist, is that I will not attempt to change directly a persons choice of religious belief. Partially because it probably is, as you suggest, a comfort to them and they depend upon it.
I will, however, if asked by someone of belief, explain why I do not hold to the idea of a God in the biblical sense.

My moral outlook cokes from believing that I know the difference between right and wrong without having to have it dictated to my by some leader.

INT21
 

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Coal,

My own stance, being an atheist, is that I will not attempt to change directly a persons choice of religious belief. Partially because it probably is, as you suggest, a comfort to them and they depend upon it.
I will, however, if asked by someone of belief, explain why I do not hold to the idea of a God in the biblical sense.

My moral outlook codes from believing that I know the difference between right and wrong without having to have it dictated to my by some leader.

INT21
I wasn't suggesting you would do such a thing, sorry if I implied that.

Do you not see a contradiction in deriving moral codes from religious sources and holding to atheism?
 

INT21

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Coal,

No need for any apologies. I didn't think you were implying such.

My intention was to say that I (personally) do not derive my actions from any religious source.

Even a quick scan of the three main religious texts will indicate that revenge and subjugation are major factors in organised religion.

When a person can be instructed, and far worst, carries out an act against another simply because the other does not follow the same creed, then there is something seriously wrong.
And w see this every day.

Oddly, Judaism, whilst obviously a religion, does not require the belief in an afterlife. The afterlife being a primary objective in most religious belief.

That always struck me as strange.

My own belief ? I'll find out when I die; or I won't.

INT21
 
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Anonymous-50446

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Coal,

No need for any apologies. I didn't think you were implying such.

I intention was to say that I (personally) do not derive my actions from any religious source.

Even a quick scan of the three main religious texts will indicate that revenge and subjugation are major factors in organised religion.

When a person can be instructed, and far worst, carries out an act against another simply because the other does not follow the same creed, then there is something seriously wrong.
And w see this every day.
Well that's true, but such act are often themselves in violation of the codes of the religion. In Christianity one must not steal or kill for example. But killing and theft has been carried out in the name of God for centuries. Likewise subjugation, how one can attend a church and keep slaves, for example?

I see these acts as those of people, who having defined themselves as the 'good' group, automatically dehumanize the 'out-group'. I think it's little to do with religion per se, and more about enclosed institutions built on the religion or beliefs, and such institutions are always prone to become insular and detached as well as being open to abuse by a charismatic bastard.

Oddly, Judaism, whilst obviously a religion, does not require the belief in an afterlife. The afterlife being a primary objective in most religious belief.

That always struck me as strange.
I wonder is this is related to the relatively recent tribal nomadic existence of the Jewish peoples, (the twelve tribes). The moral codes in Judaism might be interpreted as a code which promotes harmony within a tribal unit in a difficult social/geographical landscape. It can seem a little insular viewed from the outside, even today. I would describe the formalisation of such a code as merely the formalisation of the code of behaviour that proto-humans would have lived by when in a small group. Thou shalt not kill (us). Thou shall not steal (from us), thou shalt not covet thy tribe's member's stuff, and so on.

My own belief ? I'll find out when I die; or I won't.

INT21
Aye, we all will.
 

INT21

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Coal,

It does seem very tribal.

A few years back I had a strange example of this.

I was at work. It was ten o'clock break. Sat around the bench where I worked were three of us. Myself and two Pakistani co-workers. Great blokes with whom I had a good working relationship.
I got out a sandwich to eat with my coffee and one of them stood up and walked away. So I asked the other 'What is wrong with Ash ?'

Oh don't worry about it. it is Ramadan and he is very religious. He hasn't to be in the presence of some one who is eating'.
It actually put me in an awkward position. I had no intention of offending him, and, in truth I was in my own country following my countries normalities. For a brief moment I felt I aught to apologize. Then thought 'hell no.' Why should I.

Such simple things illustrate the hold that religion has on some people.

The aftermath was that he explained that he shouldn't have been there during the tea break as he knew I always had a sandwich.

INT21
 

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Finding out when you die might be too late. Then you go to hell because you ate bacon.

Coal: There are a number of instances of slavery in the bible. Think of Ham for example.
 

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Coal: There are a number of instances of slavery in the bible. Think of Ham for example.
Indeed. Does the bible say it's OK though? My point was that the basic tents of a faith (for example Christianity) are really an OK way to live ones life in many respects. Do unto others, turn the other cheek, forgive folk. love thy neighbour. All good.

It's when some git says "So they won't turn the other cheek and love their neighbors eh? We'll learn them, come on lads..."
 

Elsupremo

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I maintain that the only way that one can really believe in God is if God chooses to reveal him, her or itself to you. So most people, I suspect ,don't have that revelation and only say that they believe because they have been convinced by religion. Also, what if God doesn't want everyone to believe in it. Maybe it has a chosen that it reveals itself to. So if you are an atheist, perhaps God is is hiding from you. Why would a God hide from his creation? The Tower of Babel story in the Bible tells us that God wasn't too pleased with us trying to reach him. Whether this story is fact or a metaphor, the sentiment is clear. You know the name of the Egyptian god "Amen" means the hidden one. God sounds all to human sometimes. However, to me, so far, in my journey to God, it has revealed itself to be the sun ☀ Is it the sun, now and forever? I shall see.
 

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Indeed. Does the bible say it's OK though? ...
'Bought' servitude / indenture is not only treated as OK, but subject to specific rules outlined in the books of laws:

- Exodus 21
- Deuteronomy 15
- Leviticus 25
 

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'Bought' servitude / indenture is not only treated as OK, but subject to specific rules outlined in the books of laws:

- Exodus 21
- Deuteronomy 15
- Leviticus 25
Should be noted most of the laws were only restrictions on Jewish slaves. Slaves taken from outsiders were just property and treated as such.
New Testament didn't offer much commentary, except that Christian slaves should be good slaves and try to convert their masters.
And yeah, you can pull out good bits from Christianity. You can do so in most religions.
Thing is like a lot of religions its just a codified set of values at the time it was developed.
Culture evolves apart from it, the texts themselves make trouble. Jesus taught after all to abandon your family if they don't believe.
 

ramonmercado

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See? Atheists are nice people.

Study: Atheists behave more fairly toward Christians than Christians behave toward atheists
ERIC W. DOLAN September 7, 2017

Psychologists have long known that people tend to favor their own group over others, a social phenomenon known as ingroup bias. But new research provides evidence that atheists are motivated to buck this trend in an attempt to override the stereotype that they are immoral.

Psychology researchers from Ohio University found that Christians demonstrated an ingroup bias towards other Christians in an economic game but atheists did not have an ingroup bias towards other atheists. The study was published online July 10 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

“The rise of the so-called ‘New Atheists’ about a decade ago coupled with the ongoing ‘culture wars’ between religious and secular groups in the United States has led atheists as a population to gain an unprecedented level of visibility in this country in recent years, even as their prevalence has only incrementally increased. This has sparked a particular interest in anti-atheist prejudice research in social psychology,” explained study author Colleen Cowgill, a PhD student. ...

http://www.psypost.org/2017/09/stud...tians-christians-behave-toward-atheists-49607
 

INT21

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..Jesus taught after all to abandon your family if they don't believe...

And Buddha walked out on this family to spread the word.

Atheists are generally nicer people than practicing believers. Possibly because they don't carry this original sin type guilt around with them all the time. They don't feel that, even if they don't believe in a God, they have to keep up the pretense that they do just to maintain their position in their society. In the worst cases, simply to stay alive.

INT21
 

UnknownUnknown

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..Jesus taught after all to abandon your family if they don't believe...

And Buddha walked out on this family to spread the word.

Atheists are generally nicer people than practicing believers. Possibly because they don't carry this original sin type guilt around with them all the time. They don't feel that, even if they don't believe in a God, they have to keep up the pretense that they do just to maintain their position in their society. In the worst cases, simply to stay alive.

INT21

I love the hope that's in your outlook Int21 but I have some reservations about making this kind of generalisation. There have been plenty of horrendous acts committed by atheists (though it's a cliche, let's think immediately of Stalin).

I'm afraid that I don't think it's ever helpful for one group of people to feel that they are essentially better or nicer than another group or groups by virtue of their group membership alone.

I don't mean this to sound quite so negative. My sunny nature means that I'd much prefer to turn it round: there are magnificent people who flourish in every kind of belief system. This is often because of (not despite) their religious denomination or atheism. Who are we to make a worldwide tally of numbers? It would be impossible.

As a side note, the term 'atheist' is too broad to be particularly useful in many discussions. It doesn't even distinguish between people raised without religious faith, and people who have lost their faith, for example. Which would seem to me to be two very different experiences of faithlessness.
 

INT21

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..It doesn't even distinguish between people raised without religious faith, and people who have lost their faith, for example..

It doesn't need to.

It doesn't question which is the best flavour of ice cream, but whether there is any ice cream there in the first place.

Most people as children were brought up in one faith or another depending on the belief of their parents. I was brought up the same. Still have the books I got at Sunday School. But as kids get older they are able too look past the belief of their parents and to question them.

The questioning of belief is something that was anathema to the last generation. It could get you ostracized within your community. A good example of the use of this power is that all the early religious and even scientific texts in England were written in Latin. Only the clergy and the educated classes could read it. Everyone else had to rely upon the local priest, teacher etc giving a translation. And he (it was always a 'he' then) could twist the texts to suit the occasion.
When English translations came out people who could read began to question the clergy's interpretations.

Atheism means, quite literally 'no god'.

Or to make a declaration out of it, the evidence does not indicate the existence of a deity.

I have no problem with people believing what ever they want. But I do object to their beliefs being forced upon others to enable the believing group to exert power over them.

If it makes folks feel happy and maybe makes them think there is something else after they die, then all well and good.

But offering prayers etc to an unseen and unseeable entity doesn't have a great track record of success.

INT21
 

Frideswide

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I'm afraid that I don't think it's ever helpful for one group of people to feel that they are essentially better or nicer than another group or groups by virtue of their group membership alone.
hear hear! :D
 

UnknownUnknown

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..It doesn't even distinguish between people raised without religious faith, and people who have lost their faith, for example..

It doesn't need to.

It doesn't question which is the best flavour of ice cream, but whether there is any ice cream there in the first place.

Most people as children were brought up in one faith or another depending on the belief of their parents. I was brought up the same. Still have the books I got at Sunday School. But as kids get older they are able too look past the belief of their parents and to question them.

The questioning of belief is something that was anathema to the last generation. It could get you ostracized within your community. A good example of the use of this power is that all the early religious and even scientific texts in England were written in Latin. Only the clergy and the educated classes could read it. Everyone else had to rely upon the local priest, teacher etc giving a translation. And he (it was always a 'he' then) could twist the texts to suit the occasion.
When English translations came out people who could read began to question the clergy's interpretations.

Atheism means, quite literally 'no god'.

Or to make a declaration out of it, the evidence does not indicate the existence of a deity.

I have no problem with people believing what ever they want. But I do object to their beliefs being forced upon others to enable the believing group to exert power over them.

If it makes folks feel happy and maybe makes them think there is something else after they die, then all well and good.

But offering prayers etc to an unseen and unseeable entity doesn't have a great track record of success.

INT21

Thanks Int21, but I would like to come back on that question of the term 'atheism' as we're using it, being a bit unweildy.

Your own experience is of someone raised in a particular faith and then rejecting that faith or, as you've phrased it 'looking past' it. Atheism in these terms is defined in opposition to, and superseding, religion (which is presupposed). Atheism may be connected to a rational rejection of the particular religion that has been jettisoned.

But this is not the only kind of atheist experience that exists. I am a 3rd generation atheist. I have not rejected any particular religion, and retain a curiosity and respect for the religious experiences of others. I very much see religion as an outsider however and it is hard for me to genuinely empathise sometimes particularly with organised belief systems.

These different backgrounds become important regarding the question of morality that was raised earlier for example, if morality and religious thought are considered to be implicitly linked.

There is not one experience of religion, and we can talk with nuance about polytheism and monotheism, about Christianity and Buddhism. I just feel that there is a lack of subtle language to describe atheistic experience or thought.
 

INT21

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UnknownUnknown,

...These different backgrounds become important regarding the question of morality that was raised earlier for example, if morality and religious thought are considered to be implicitly linked...

I must disagree. Morality, i.e the ability to know good from bad and to act accordingly, is a function of a persons intelligence and empathy.
The quote above suggest that it depends upon a fear of some kind of divine retribution that one will be called to answer for your mortal acts when you appear before some heavenly judge.
Thus, in this situation you are being 'good' out of fear, not because you necessarily are by nature good.

With the 'there is no God' definition of atheism, it follows that one need fear no retribution as there is nothing there to judge you.

You are responsible for your own acts and are the product of your own decisions.

Also, the idea of blasphemy is a non starter to an atheist as there is nothing there to denigrate.

...There is not one experience of religion,...

All religions require a 'godhead' to worship. that is the common theme.




INT21
 

UnknownUnknown

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UnknownUnknown,

...These different backgrounds become important regarding the question of morality that was raised earlier for example, if morality and religious thought are considered to be implicitly linked...

I must disagree. Morality, i.e the ability to know good from bad and to act accordingly, is a function of a persons intelligence and empathy.
The quote above suggest that it depends upon a fear of some kind of divine retribution that one will be called to answer for your mortal acts when you appear before some heavenly judge.
Thus, in this situation you are being 'good' out of fear, not because you necessarily are by nature good.

With the 'there is no God' definition of atheism, it follows that one need fear no retribution as there is nothing there to judge you.

You are responsible for your own acts and are the product of your own decisions.

Also, the idea of blasphemy is a non starter to an atheist as there is nothing there to denigrate.

...There is not one experience of religion,...

All religions require a 'godhead' to worship. that is the common theme.




INT21

Helloo Int21.

I hope your day was better than mine today, which sucked!

I have to say that I am no moral philosopher. My philosophy hero though, is Mary Midgely, and I find her writing on morality and ethics to be really compelling, sensitive, and - above all - sensible. She writes a lot of sense, in my opinion, about the very complex relationships between social constructs and personal beliefs. As an atheist herself I find her deeply persuasive. Her book Wickedness is where I started. If you've not read it, give it a try! :)

As for all religions having a godhead - is that definitely true? Maybe it depends how you define godhead? I'm thinking of Jainism for example, or other pluralistic religions. Even Buddhism doesn't invite worship of a deity in that sense.

Generally I was just trying to say that I find there to be a paucity of language to describe the atheistic experience of the world. and I'd stand by that. Maybe I just haven't looked in the right places?
 

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Generally I was just trying to say that I find there to be a paucity of language to describe the atheistic experience of the world. and I'd stand by that. Maybe I just haven't looked in the right places?
That's because a belief in God is a point towards one thing. Atheism is every other direction from that.
 

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"offering prayers etc to an unseen and unseeable entity doesn't have a greattrack recordof success."

Debatable. There have been a huge number of studies conducted on prayer as a complementary form of therapy and, whilst imposing strict scientific controls on such analysis is obviously difficult, there appears to be evidence that prayer can have a beneficial effect in recovery from illness or injury. Whether this is a manifestation of anything supernatural or is merely the result of the calming and stress-reducing effects of prayer is uncertain. However, reducing anxiety, positive thinking and acknowledgement of a benevolent spiritual side to humanity, would seem to foster an environment and attitude more conducive to recovery than holding more nihilistic views.
 

EnolaGaia

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... As a side note, the term 'atheist' is too broad to be particularly useful in many discussions. It doesn't even distinguish between people raised without religious faith, and people who have lost their faith, for example. Which would seem to me to be two very different experiences of faithlessness.
There are two aspects to this problem - one concerning the lack of specificity one can attribute to 'atheism', and the other concerning the ongoing leveraging of the term for pejorative effect.

The lack of specificity derives from the fact 'a-theism' is defined by negation. As jimv1 noted (post #1975) a position defined in opposition to, or absence of, X isn't a particular position at all, but rather a vague reference to 'anything / everything else'. It can't distinguish between the two possible bases you mentioned (and / or among these and any number of others ... ) because it denotes nothing beyond 'lack of reliance upon the concept of a deity'. The only fixed point of reference it can claim is the deism from which it distances itself. The concept is defined solely in terms of what it's not - not what it is.

This opens the door to its being solely leverage-able from the only solid point of reference that can serve as a metaphorical fulcrum - i.e., deism. Which leads to the second aspect ...

In its earliest usage (among the ancient Greeks and Romans) the notion of 'a-theism' was severely pejorative. During the messy onset of the Enlightenment this archaic usage was overlaid by the choice of the same term to mean something purportedly positive.

Atheism and atheist are words formed from Greek roots and with Greek derivative endings. Nevertheless they are not Greek; their formation is not consonant with Greek usage. In Greek they said átheos and atheotēs; to these the English words ungodly and ungodliness correspond rather closely. In exactly the same way as ungodly, átheos was used as an expression of severe censure and moral condemnation; this use is an old one, and the oldest that can be traced. Not till later do we find it employed to denote a certain philosophical creed.

- Anders B. Drachmann, Atheism in Pagan Antiquity, 1922, Introduction.
The problem lies in the fact there was no clearly defined 'philosophical creed' to which this recycled label could be attached. As a result, 'atheist' has devolved back into its original pejorative connotations with the very same insinuative effect - i.e., to characterize 'atheists' as people who either have failed to adopt or have rejected the deism of the surrounding herd.

The context for debate is, in effect, rigged toward needling atheists to explain their negatively-defined position rather than needling deists to defend their positively-defined belief(s).

This rigging is so deeply ingrained that it's reflected in the very language used to approach the topic. Your own phrasing (quoted above) describes both paths to atheism in terms of deficiency, and then equates the outcome with the emotionally loaded and most commonly pejorative term 'faithlessness'.

faithless
adjective

- not loyal and not able to be trusted
- not faithful sexually to your marriage partner or usual sexual partner:
a faithless husband

Thesaurus: synonyms and related words
Disloyalty, betrayal & treason

- Cambridge English Dictionary
 

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"then equates the outcome with the emotionally loaded and most commonly pejorative term 'faithlessness'."

That's a good point.
I do feel however that there is a more fundamental issue here; I.e that in their conviction that humankind has no spiritual element, the atheist is effectively reducing us to mere flesh and blood automata.
 

EnolaGaia

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... I do feel however that there is a more fundamental issue here; I.e that in their conviction that humankind has no spiritual element, the atheist is effectively reducing us to mere flesh and blood automata.
Depending on where one draws the theological / philosophical lines of demarcations, any answer to this may have variable connotations.

For example ...

'A-theism' is generally defined in complete opposition to the notion of deities. However, the proliferation of various forms of 'deism' during the Enlightenment added a labyrinthine set of positions which typically conceded some form of deity but rejected supernatural (e.g., revelatory) aspects of how such deities were allegedly identified and / or known. Deism can therefore encompass (e.g.) a position that there is some deity, but that deity cannot be known except in a totally natural context and via the application of reason.

Most flavors of such 'deism' are often lumped into the 'atheism' category in naive / everyday conversation.

In a similar vein, one can read any number of connotations into the notion of 'spiritual' / 'spirituality'. To some, spiritual affairs are, first and foremost, affairs of the individual. To others, nothing counts as 'spiritual' unless it's connected to one or another deity.

The latter is, of course, entirely dispensable in the eyes of atheists but entirely indispensable for the organized religions whose power and authority derives from their alleged franchises to such a connection. The former, though, hasn't proven dispensable to the organized religions, insofar as they emphasize individual choices or acts as criteria for acceptance, exclusion, or even condemnation.

Rejection of a deity doesn't necessarily exclude or refute 'spiritual' matters in this former (individual) sense. It merely denies the proposition that you can't engage or enjoy a 'spiritual' dimension to your life unless you pledge allegiance to some all-powerful imaginary friend.
 
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