Atheism

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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.
So which animals have souls then?
 

INT21

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...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..

And all the evil done in the name of God (any god, although they all seem to agree there is only one) supports the above ?

INT21
 

INT21

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...The concept is defined solely in terms of what it's not - not what it is...

What it is or isn't doesn't matter if it can't be observed.

It is a bit like the search for Dark Matter. The reasoning of physicists says it is there, even that it has to be. but no one has yet been able to show by observation what it is, or even if it exists at all or is just a quirk in the math.

Atheist are not really interested in providing an alternative of 'God'. To us it doesn't matter. It is a non-issue.

Our only concern is that there are millions of people who are ruled by religion and can, often with very little excuse, be led by the nose to killing their fellow humans.

As for the connection between atheism and spirituality.

It boils down to 'do I believe there is anything else other than the reality I can observe ?'.

Maybe there is. But I feel sure it will not involve an all powerful being with a flowing beard who/what has any interest in us.

Even the existence of such a being would lead to the question 'who was God's mother ?, and where did he/she/it exist if there was no universe ?'.

Why give oneself a headache over unanswerable questions.

INT21.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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...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..

And all the evil done in the name of God (any god, although they all seem to agree there is only one) supports the above ?

INT21
Well no, as I doubt very much if anyone who prays to whatever deity believes that deity to be evil (with the possible exception of satanists).

As for agreeing there is only one, followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto and a whole range of animist religions would disagree with that. The Christian deity is a trinity and the Christian gospels are so very different to say the Quran, that it's difficult to perceive them as describing the same deity.
 

INT21

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...Well no, as I doubt very much if anyone who prays to whatever deity believes that deity to be evil..

Agreed. But that isn't the problem.

The problem is that hard line believers in a particular interpretation believe that every one who does not subscribe to the same belief are not following 'the one true path' and should be either converted or eradicated.
We even see this in the Christian faith. Not so much as it used to be, but still there.

We do see in in it's extreme form in Islam.

Touted by those who follow it as a religion of love etc but containing a couple of verses that insist that true believers are duty bound to kill those who do not.
One can almost imagine the top of their bathroom mirror carrying the message 'Have you killed your unbeliever yet ? If not, why not ?'.

It's there in black and white (Sura 9). No denying it.

As an atheist it matters not to me if someone spends his time on his knees praying to a gold crucifix or a rock in the garden; they are all wasting their time. Any God that may exist doesn't really give a toss what they are doing. And this is demonstrated on a daily basis.

INT21
 

blessmycottonsocks

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". problem is that hard line believers in a particular interpretation believe that every one who does not subscribe to the same belief are not following 'the one true path' and should be either converted or eradicated.
We even see this in the Christian faith. Not so much as it used to be, but still there.

We do see in in it's extreme form in Islam."

I don't disagree with that. I'm sure the jihadi, gibbering his alla akbars and blowing himself up on a crowded bus believes he's doing something his deity would approve of. Similarly, to take an example from Christianity's past (now thankfully a very long time past!) I'm sure Torquemada and his gang of torturers believed they were doing God's work.

But that has nothing to do with the question I originally answered. I responded to a claim that prayer doesn't work, by referring to its beneficial effect as a complementary therapy.

"Any God that may exist ...."

Interesting (he says, raising an eye-brow Spock-like)!
You sound more like an agnostic than a genuine atheist, who would reject and deny even the possibility of there being a spiritual element to life.
 

INT21

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You may lower that eyebrow now.

It is the definition of 'spirituality' that is causing the problem here.

I have always left open the possibly of there having been some kind of 'creator'.

But not the kind that is depicted in the Bible.
This is the difference. Believers claim tho 'know' there is a God. Yet all they really have is whatever their particular holy book tells them. And that is all down to stories told before the days of written records. And over the generations it has become a huge industry. Very powerful people at the top playing sordid games with the lower ranks beneath them. There is a God given reason for every occasion. It is indeed a very clever game. You can't prove a negative in this field. 'You prove there is a God: You prove there isn't';stalemate.

The possibility that something created all this (and possibly more) is there. Or did it all spring into being, literally, out of nothing. And if some kind of creator did indeed make the whole thing, where was it when it did it, let alone why ?

I can bring it down to a level that everyone here can understand.

This is a Fortean site. And it is here because some very strange things appear to happen.

If there is anything at all in the belief of, say, ghosts, then these ghosts have to be somewhere.

Call it another 'realm'.

So if this realm exist at all, where is it ?

To say it doesn't exist just throws up the question 'so where do the ghosts (spirits, ufos etc) come from and return to ?'.
All this indicates a 'somewhere else' that we can't find using scientific methods. So people fall back on belief.

If the strange happenings actually do happen, or the ufos actually do exist (assuming they are not ours) then belief isn't required. What is required is knowledge of a method of revealing the realm.

I put it that we just don't yet have the technology. We are missing something.

So, when we do eventually make the connection we may find that whatever is there also has the same questions.

Some infinite Russian Doll.

INT21
 

INT21

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Oh, almost forgot.

As a comforter, prayer does work for those involved. But not because a god is going to help.

It didn't help the people killed by the flooding, or by earthquakes, or even in the concentration camps, and they were supposed to be God's chosen ones.

INT21.
 

UnknownUnknown

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Eyebrows at the ready:

Lots of interesting stuff raised here since I last logged on, but I have to be brief just now as there is off-line stuff to deal with.

@EnolaGaia Thanks for coming back on that question of language. Can I ask where you're based? Are you US? My experience here (UK) is slightly different. In England particularly (I'm now based in Scotland, which is slightly different), I don't think the term 'atheist' is necessarily pejorative. If you'll forgive the phrase, it is often treated as a 'holier than thou' self-descriptor: the atheist feels themselves to be more rational, more logical, more modern, and more clearsighted than the believer (who is typified as being credulous, archaic, irrational. and even dangerous). This is, clearly, a massive generalisation, which I introduce solely to suggest a slight difference in cultural positioning.

I am as uncomfortable with this atheist-as-superior as I am with the atheist-as-inferior that you describe. Partly my reaction is a gut discomfort with such value-based generalisations. And partly it is because I don't think that the one fact (faithlessness - I use it advisedly, for all it's drawbacks) necessarily connotes the other qualities of rationality, logic, modernity etc.

As we've seen, atheism is such a wide field (a 'broad church' we might say, ha ha) that I really don't feel that individual atheists experiences or outlooks necessarily have much in common with each other. I have a deep respect for @INT21's articulation of his perspective. But - even though we are both atheists - our positions seem quite different. He dies not speak for me when he uses the pronoun 'we'. My own atheism does not come from rational speculation, and I am not a particularly logical or clearsighted person. I share @blessmycottonsocks' rail against "mere flesh and blood automata". I am definitely no scientist!

I understand the world through poetry, and the marvel of living; through all the plurality of art and thought and laughter and awe. I am not a humanist, because the secret languages of tree sap and rock strata may have equal and glittering potentiality. I will never know, and that is glorious. We live, and we love, and we die, and at the centre of all my experience of the world is a calm and quiet place at the heart of me that says there is only this. And which smiles, because this is infinitely wonderful. That is my atheism. It is an entirely positive experience.
 

blessmycottonsocks

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"or even in the concentration camps"

Again I have to disagree. A quick Google reveals many examples of concentration camp prisoners who claim that their faith and prayer gave them the strength to survive an ordeal so horrific we can barely comprehend it.
 

INT21

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..Again I have to disagree...

No worries.

My argument would be if the people concerned were supposed to be God's chosen ones, why did that supposed all powerful deity not intervene and prevent the whole thing happening ?

Could it be that, despite all the claims, this God is in fact impotent.

I don't doubt for a moment that people of faith will have a ready answer for that. But if this supreme deity can't help those who need it most, what good is it ? Why bother worshiping something that is not going to give something back ?

Self determination is not a sensible reason; before anyone suggests it.

INT21
 

EnolaGaia

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... @EnolaGaia Thanks for coming back on that question of language. Can I ask where you're based? Are you US? ...
Yep - my location is given beneath my avatar in the sidebar.


...My experience here (UK) is slightly different. In England particularly (I'm now based in Scotland, which is slightly different), I don't think the term 'atheist' is necessarily pejorative. If you'll forgive the phrase, it is often treated as a 'holier than thou' self-descriptor: the atheist feels themselves to be more rational, more logical, more modern, and more clearsighted than the believer (who is typified as being credulous, archaic, irrational. and even dangerous). This is, clearly, a massive generalisation, which I introduce solely to suggest a slight difference in cultural positioning
Differences aren't usefully distinguished by geographical location alone. One must also take timeframe and cultural milieu (for a given individual) into account.

Most importantly, one must include consideration of whose perspective or vantage point is involved. Pejorative intent is dependent on who's talking and to whom he / she is referring. Pejorative effect tends to run highest when the speaker (a) strongly self-identifies with one or the other position and (b) is referring to adherents of the opposite position.

Given these qualifications ...

The 'holier than thou' bit is evident in both true believers and fervent non-believers. The true believers got away with it for centuries because they had the power of the Church to back them up. Nowadays most have to remain content with a certain smug self-satisfaction now that there aren't any inquisitors to whom they can tattle.

Non-believers, on the other hand, got a later start to their public self-aggrandizement. It's really only been during the last 2 - 3 decades that professed atheists have attained celebrity / notoriety outside their own circles. There had been sporadic outbursts of widely-publicized events relating to belief (e.g., the Scopes Monkey Trial and Madalyn Murray O'Hair's Sixties-era turn in the spotlight), but nothing really persistent until more recently.

In both cases, there's a disturbingly high proportion of tacit hypocrites - i.e., true believers whose belief extends no farther than their own self-professed doctrinal or institutional affiliation, and non-believers who have a self-assigned position but who've never given the matter any thought at all. In such instances, the espoused attitude has more to do with social positioning than individual belief per se.

... And IMHO prioritizing social positioning over actual belief is most definitely " ... being credulous, archaic, irrational. and even dangerous", regardless of the opinion regarding deities.
 

EnolaGaia

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... I am as uncomfortable with this atheist-as-superior as I am with the atheist-as-inferior that you describe. Partly my reaction is a gut discomfort with such value-based generalisations. And partly it is because I don't think that the one fact (faithlessness - I use it advisedly, for all it's drawbacks) necessarily connotes the other qualities of rationality, logic, modernity etc.
I agree with the last bit ... There's no basis for assuming anyone self-described as an 'atheist' has arrived at that position via reasoning (logic, etc.). By the same token, there's no basis for assuming anyone self-professing allegiance to one or another deity has arrived at that position via personally-actualized faith.
 

EnolaGaia

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... As a comforter, prayer does work for those involved. But not because a god is going to help.

It didn't help the people killed by the flooding, or by earthquakes, or even in the concentration camps, and they were supposed to be God's chosen ones.
In the worst case, prayer provides an excuse for not responding in any more substantive or effective fashion to a crisis. In the next-to-worst case it provides self-comfort in the face of a problem to which the prayer-giver can't (or even won't ... ) offer anything more than alleged sympathy.

I don't mind - and even appreciate - believers offering prayers for someone else's benefit. On the other hand, it drives me up the wall when a believer acts as if it necessarily counts for much as a response ...

im-sorry-we-prayed.jpg
 

UnknownUnknown

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Just bumping this as a link from the conversation in The RIP Thread here: http://forum.forteantimes.com/index.php?threads/the-rip-thread.30162/page-197#post-1719891

The question raised is whether atheists feel a desire for truly evil people (Charles Manson, Ian Brady, etc.) to be punished after their deaths - for example in Hell. Myself, no I can't imagine different kinds of afterlives for different kinds of people. Dead is dead in my humble opinion, no matter who you are. Except in the minds of those who remember you, of course.
 

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Apparently, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, but I have no idea why, or what form they think it might take.

I agree with you; dead is dead, good or bad. I think a lot of atheists who say things like, "I hope he burns in hell", or whatever, are probably talking metaphorically, or just using well known turns of phrase, rather than having an actual belief that something might happen.

Personally, I'm more concerned that the 'bad guys' see earthly justice.
 
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Apparently, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, but I have no idea why, or what form they think it might take.

I agree with you; dead is dead, good or bad. I think a lot of atheists who say things like, "I hope he burns in hell", or whatever, are probably talking metaphorically, or just using well known turns of phrase, rather than having an actual belief that something might happen.

Personally, I'm more concerned that the 'bad guys' see earthly justice.
I'm an agnostic veering towards atheism. I don't think there's an afterlife but I won't feel disappointed if I'm proved to be wrong. Manson spent 48 years in a small cell. For a messiah that was punishment, even torture. He was only given a modicum of "fame" through weirdos promising to marry him (& reneging) and the medias need to sell papers get views and clicks.
 
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EnolaGaia

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... The question raised is whether atheists feel a desire for truly evil people (Charles Manson, Ian Brady, etc.) to be punished after their deaths - for example in Hell. ...
Apparently, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, but I have no idea why, or what form they think it might take. ...
It all depends on which of the multiple nuanced versions of 'atheism' (or, for that matter, 'theism') is in play.

In the strictest / narrowest sense an 'atheist' denies or disbelieves the notion of deities - i.e., personified or person-like supernatural agents or agencies actively governing / managing our 'reality'.

There are belief systems which incorporate concepts of moral balance, reward / punishment, etc., that need not be predicated on there being supernatural beings enforcing them.

You don't have to commit to there being Murphy fairies as a condition of believing in Murphy's Law.

If one construes an afterlife or a progression of afterlives with karmic evolution as a natural aspect of our experience, one can accept these notions while still denying there's any imaginary super-friend overseeing things.
 

AlchoPwn

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According to the US Supreme Court, Atheism is a religion and is due all the perks in jail that every other religion gets.
http://www.wnd.com/2005/08/31895/

That is at odds with what most Atheists state is their opinion on the matter however.

As to the Agnostic/Atheist debate, consider...

An agnostic simply says they don't know whether god exists or not. This is a pretty wishy-washy position.

Monotheist claims can't even define what it is that they believe in. Of course that doesn't stop them saying that God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent, despite the fact that this whole line of inquiry is succinctly made into a mockery by Epicurus' take on the problem of evil:


And so we are left with the monotheists essentially making claims about God being in the places that Science cannot explain. Well, that is a native reservation that is dwindling in size all the time due to the encroachment of the new perspective. Worse, it actually means that God only exists in areas of human ignorance... and thus has over time become the deification and anthropomorphization of Human Ignorance. I personally can't imagine a more egregious form of idolatry.

Essentially an Atheist only has to refute the claims made by religions, and those are to be found in the scriptures of the religion in question.

The sheer staggering quantity of irreconcilable contradictions in the Bible would tend to refute the existence of a God, and as many of these contradictions are in the Old Testament, that fixes Judaism and Islam as well. For those who demand that the Koran be refuted separately, there is the issue that human reproduction is the product of spermatozoa joining with ova, not "a clot of blood" as the Koran says, and an all-knowing God who invented people is supposed to know things like that.

So to say that "I don't know" if there is a god or not as agnostics do, is intellectually dishonest to the substantial evidence that the entirety of religion is a lie. Many people might believe in God because he answers their prayers, but many people are ignorant of what the Psychological theory of confirmation bias is too. Funny that.
 
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Apparently, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, but I have no idea why, or what form they think it might take...
I think the important thing here is the difference between 'an' afterlife, and 'the' afterlife; I don't really think there is any technical reason that a belief in some form of continuation of existence after death is dependent on adherence to a particular religion.
 

INT21

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...Apparently, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, but I have no idea why, or what form they think it might take...

Fluttermoth,

Tell me, what form do you think heaven takes ? You must have some preconceived ideas.

This is a Fortean site and it relies upon strange occurrences .

A favorite being the paranormal. Ghosts etc.

Why should ghosts require a god in the biblical sense ?

It all boils down to these ghosts etc having to come from somewhere; or they do not exist at all. If the latter then we may as well all pack up and go home as we are simply perpetuating nonsense.

The key aspect of religion is that it is organised. This implies two groups. The organisers and the organised.

If the organisers, who wield the power (of life and death in many cases) can get the organised to believe what they say then their task (maintaining power over their fellows) is made very much easier.

And that is what it is all about: It's a simple power game that can't be refuted. Logic has no place in religion.

INT21
 

INT21

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UnknownUnknown,

..The question raised is whether atheists feel a desire for truly evil people (Charles Manson, Ian Brady, etc.) to be punished after their deaths - for example in Hell. Myself, no I can't imagine different kinds of afterlives for different kinds of people...

You are assuming the existence of some 'thing' that is there to decide. You proof of this should be of interest to us all.

Atheists do not believe in these religious options. But it should matter to believers.

If all people went to the same afterlife (let us assume Heaven of the religious kind) then what is the point of adhering to a 'good' form of living if you really want to do otherwise ? Why not go out and rape a few nuns if in the end you are going to go to Heaven anyway ?

It seems to fit in with the Catholic idea of 'kill on Saturday, repent on Sunday. And you will be forgiven'.

Why should anyone be forgiven if they have deliberately killed someone ?

Makes absolutely no sense to me.

INT32
 
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So to say that "I don't know" if there is a god or not as agnostics do, is intellectually dishonest to the substantial evidence that the entirety of religion is a lie. Many people might believe in God because he answers their prayers, but many people are ignorant of what the Psychological theory of confirmation bias is too. Funny that.
I just cannot disprove the existence of a "creator" to my own satisfaction. I accept that all religions are made up.

But I am Pastor of The First Church Of Richard Dawkins The Conciliator.
 

Fluttermoth

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...Apparently, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, but I have no idea why, or what form they think it might take...

Fluttermoth,

Tell me, what form do you think heaven takes ? You must have some preconceived ideas.
My idea of heaven is the one I was brought up with; basically England without the crappy bits (thanks, dad!). But I don't think it exists (it would be nice though!).

Both my parents are/were (my father passed away a few years ago) what I call wishy-washy theists; they do believe there's a higher power that had some sort of guiding influence on the creation of the universe, but we didn't go to church or anything (except weddings and funerals).

I do know my mum thinks she did something wrong, because me and both my sisters are quite hardcore atheists, but I think she did everything right, because we weren't brainwashed, and were always taught to question and research and make up our own minds, and were given a great love of learning, knowledge and books :)
 

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INT21 said:
It all boils down to these ghosts etc having to come from somewhere; or they do not exist at all. If the latter then we may as well all pack up and go home as we are simply perpetuating nonsense.
I disagree. The reason for people believing they see ghosts is as worthy of Fortean study as the reality, or otherwise, of their existence.
 
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