Atheism

Mungoman

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We have a devil due to God wanting the heavenly host to bow down before humanity. Rightly so, one angel said "I disagree - we came before mankind, so why should we bow down before them"?

Because I made them said god.

The angel said "No. I refuse to bow down before humanity"

God said suit yourself, and threw that angel out of heaven - down into that deep and stygian cavern called Hell, where it has dwelt ever since.

That is not an all powerful equanimous god that we've been led to believe in - that is a trumplike entity.
 

AlchoPwn

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Is Atheism A Belief System... or Fact?
It just struck me - many people who are atheists seem to regard it as a fact, irrefutable. But isn't it a belief system, exactly the same as monotheism, polytheism, or agnosticism? Or is it scientific "fact"? I'm not sure how it's calssified, but it might be scientific fact to a believer in atheism, but just a belief to anybody else....
A fair question. Atheism is considered a belief system by the US Supreme Court, so as to insure that Atheists are not discriminated against in the US prison system, but many Atheists are not very happy by the reasoning the US Supreme Court used.

The classic refutation offered is that collecting stamps is a hobby, but not collecting stamps is not a hobby, ergo, how can not believing in something qualify as a belief?

Crucially, Atheism rests upon the fact that the primary evidence offered for belief in the God of the Monotheists is scripture. The deity in question is allegedly omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, and omnibenevolent, but on closer inspection of the scripture it becomes obvious that the document is very flawed, and that doesn't reflect the perfection of the supposedly perfect deity, and that imperfection will lead humans into error which may condemn them to Hell, and that is not remotely benevolent, and an all-knowing (omniscient) deity must know this fact, and if they are all-powerful (omnipotent) then they have more than enough power to intervene to fix the problem, and yet the deity chooses not to intervene. The only logical answer is that there is no deity to intervene. Is this a system? No, it is a refutation, and a refutation is an argument, not a belief system.
 

AlchoPwn

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We have a devil due to God wanting the heavenly host to bow down before humanity. Rightly so, one angel said "I disagree - we came before mankind, so why should we bow down before them"? Because I made them said god. The angel said "No. I refuse to bow down before humanity"
God said suit yourself, and threw that angel out of heaven - down into that deep and stygian cavern called Hell, where it has dwelt ever since. That is not an all powerful equanimous god that we've been led to believe in - that is a trumplike entity.
Yes, that is the Muslim version for the fall of Iblis, whom Christians call Satan or Lucifer, and Jews call Samael.
 

escargot

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A fair question. Atheism is considered a belief system by the US Supreme Court, so as to insure that Atheists are not discriminated against in the US prison system, but many Atheists are not very happy by the reasoning the US Supreme Court used.

The classic refutation offered is that collecting stamps is a hobby, but not collecting stamps is not a hobby, ergo, how can not believing in something qualify as a belief?

Crucially, Atheism rests upon the fact that the primary evidence offered for belief in the God of the Monotheists is scripture. The deity in question is allegedly omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, and omnibenevolent, but on closer inspection of the scripture it becomes obvious that the document is very flawed, and that doesn't reflect the perfection of the supposedly perfect deity, and that imperfection will lead humans into error which may condemn them to Hell, and that is not remotely benevolent, and an all-knowing (omniscient) deity must know this fact, and if they are all-powerful (omnipotent) then they have more than enough power to intervene to fix the problem, and yet the deity chooses not to intervene. The only logical answer is that there is no deity to intervene. Is this a system? No, it is a refutation, and a refutation is an argument, not a belief system.
All good points. However, and I mean this respectfully, it's still a theological discussion. Playing their game, if you like; thinking/talking/arguing around the subject of religion, when real freedom of thought means not having to waste any time at all on it.
It's like arguing about whether or not there might be a pin for those angels to dance on.
 

Mikefule

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The deity in question is allegedly omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, and omnibenevolent, but on closer inspection of the scripture it becomes obvious that the document is very flawed, and that doesn't reflect the perfection of the supposedly perfect deity, and that imperfection will lead humans into error which may condemn them to Hell, and that is not remotely benevolent, and an all-knowing (omniscient) deity must know this fact, and if they are all-powerful (omnipotent) then they have more than enough power to intervene to fix the problem, and yet the deity chooses not to intervene. The only logical answer is that there is no deity to intervene. Is this a system? No, it is a refutation, and a refutation is an argument, not a belief system.
(My emboldening of the snip from your post.) I'm an atheist myself and have reached that position after much careful consideration. However, I disagree with your "only logical answer".

Another logical answer to consider is that one or more deities exist but do not conform to the proposed description of perfect and omnibenevolent. Humans are pretty expert at misunderstanding things and projecting our own desires and prejudices onto others. For the sake of argument, there could be a creator God who is intentionally cruel, or indifferent, or mad, or even who no longer exists, or has moved on to other projects.

Another logical answer to consider is that God is indeed perfect and omnibenevolent, and has a deeper purpose that we cannot possibly understand. What appears bad or undesirable to us may, for the sake of argument, be good or desirable from God's perfect perspective.

There is a common mistake, from ordinary every day believers in monotheism, through to Descartes in his Meditations. (Yes, I have read them.)

They start off trying to establish whether God exists. Somewhere along the line, they feel that they have justified the conclusion that God exists. They then somehow do a shuffle, sidestep and a hop and conclude that the God that exists is exactly like the one they believed in in the first place.

So Descartes started from a position of complete doubt and "proved" his own existence (cogito ergo sum) and briefly wondered what he, Descartes, was. Then, with a little bit of mental gymnastics and some dodgy reasoning, he concluded that he must have been created by God, that God must be perfect and benevolent, and a perfect and benevolent God wouldn't lie to him, and therefore... everything else he already believed must be more or less true.

Proper analysis would require a complex series of questions, including but not limited to:
  • Was the world deliberately created or does it just exist?
  • If the world was created, was it created by one god, two, any other specific number, or an unknown number of gods?
  • What is that god (are those gods) like?
  • Are they benevolent, malevolent, consistent, inconsistent, disinterested?
  • If there are many gods, are some "good" and some "bad"?
  • Is his/their power infinite or limited?
  • If there is one God, is he immanent, omnipresent, fixed in one place, or able to be everywhere, but not all at the same time? (Other options are available.)
  • Indeed, having created the world, does that god (do those gods) still exist? Why assume that He is eternal?
  • Just because we were created by that god (those gods) does that mean that we should worship him (them)?
  • And so on.
Instead, people tend to go for the all or nothing: does God exist? Yes/No. If Yes, then He is exactly as expected. Believers in polytheistic religions tend to have much more nuanced ideas.

Imagine the same approach to something as familiar to Forteans as the Loch Ness Monster.

The similar faulty approach would be:
  • There is a long tradition of thinking that that there is a monster in Loch Ness that to some extent resembles a plesiosaur.
  • Is there any reason to believe that there is an unknown species of megafauna in Loch Ness?
  • Yes, therefore it must be the plesiosaur.
The better approach is:
  • There is a long tradition of thinking that there is a monster in Loch Ness that to some extent resembles a plesiosaur.
  • Is there sufficient evidence to believe that there may be one or more species in Loch Ness which (collectively) explain some or all of the monster sightings?
  • If so, what might it/they be? Eels, sturgeons, giant otters, a surviving species of saurian?
  • Can other analysis suggest the most likely explanation? Water volumes, surface area, temperature gradients, oxygen and nutrient calculations, estimated biomass of known species in the loch, etc.
  • How might we gather more reliable evidence?
  • What is the right way for us to behave in respect of a potentially vulnerable rare species?
  • And so on.
 
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AlchoPwn

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All good points. However, and I mean this respectfully, it's still a theological discussion. Playing their game, if you like; thinking/talking/arguing around the subject of religion, when real freedom of thought means not having to waste any time at all on it. It's like arguing about whether or not there might be a pin for those angels to dance on.
Actually I quite like arguing theology. I have actually been able to deconvert quite a few Christians by pointing out the flaws in their theology quite rigorously and with good humor. I have had a fair bit of luck with a few more open minded Muslims too but my hit rate isn't as high due to a lack of opportunities. As to Judaism, frankly I haven't met many Jews who take their religion very seriously at all.
 

EnolaGaia

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All good points. However, and I mean this respectfully, it's still a theological discussion. Playing their game, if you like; thinking/talking/arguing around the subject of religion, when real freedom of thought means not having to waste any time at all on it. ...
Well put! :hoff:

IMHO it's a bonehead move to enter into a debate where atheism is framed as a position on a spectrum of attitudes toward something in which the other side is heavily vested.

It's a rigged game - rigged to draw you onto the other's turf (e.g., theology), to stuff you into a pigeonhole the other has defined, and to force you to operate on the other's terms.

Don't fall for it, kids ... :omr:
 

escargot

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Well put! :hoff:

IMHO it's a bonehead move to enter into a debate where atheism is framed as a position on a spectrum of attitudes toward something in which the other side is heavily vested.

It's a rigged game - rigged to draw you onto the other's turf (e.g., theology), to stuff you into a pigeonhole the other has defined, and to force you to operate on the other's terms.

Don't fall for it, kids ... :omr:
Couldn't put it better myself. In fact I dunno why I'm reading this particular thread - looks like I care! :D
 

eburacum

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I think ontology can be discussed without necessarily straying into theological territory.
Take St Anselm's argument for example.
1/ A maximally great being exists;
2/ Therefore God exists.
Reducing this to absurdity;
1/The human mind is the most complex entity known, and has the most agency;
2/There is no evidence for any alien entities that are more complex and have more agency;
3/The most powerful human on Earth is Donald Trump;
4/Therefore Donald Trump is God.
 

PeteByrdie

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I used to spend a fair bit of online time with the 'new atheist' community. They have developed their own view of the intellectual landscape of theology on which they rely so utterly that it's impossible to shake. In order to counter claims that atheism is 'just another belief', they've determined that it is a 'lack of belief'. In other words, they do not believe deity doesn't exist, they simply have no beliefs either way, but note that there is no evidence for its existence. This sounds to me like a form of agnosticism. Be that as it may, it would come as a surprise to the majority of people in my life, who have little interest in the debate between new atheists and the faithful, and simply believe deity doesn't exist because it's a ridiculous notion for which there is no evidence. They are not part of the debate, because it doesn't interest them, and therefore they seem unworthy of attention to new atheists who have hijacked the word 'atheist' for their own identity. Yet the word is usually defined in older dictionaries as a 'belief' in the non existence of deity, and usually only additionally in newer dictionaries as a lack of belief. The people I know who simply find the religion ridiculous would be surprised to discover there's no longer a word to describe their beliefs.
 

Mikefule

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I think ontology can be discussed without necessarily straying into theological territory.
Take St Anselm's argument for example.
1/ A maximally great being exists;
2/ Therefore God exists.
I see the point you're making, but I think you've oversimplified St Anselm's argument and done his opponents a disservice (ho ho!).

1) God is the greatest thing that is imaginable.
2) A thing that is imagined to exist and exists is necessarily greater than a thing that is imagined to exist but does not exist.
3) Therefore, the greatest thing imaginable exists.
4) Therefore God exists.

There are so many things wrong with this that he had to hide his sleight of hand with expressions such as "That than which no greater can be imagined."

1) Is only one possible definition of God.
2) Is sort of true, but in the way he interpreted it, in 3) he more or less asserted that the imagination of its existence was sufficient to necessitate its existence, which is cobblers.
4) IMHO is unproven.
 

eburacum

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...he more or less asserted that the imagination of its existence was sufficient to necessitate its existence, which is cobblers.
Absolutely. Just because you can imagine something doesn't mean it exists. The capacity of the human imagination exceeds the possible by far.

To quote Blackadder:
Sir Walter: ...I have bought her gifts and dominions beyond her wildest dreams.
Queenie: Are you sure? I have some pretty wild dreams, you know…
 
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All good points. However, and I mean this respectfully, it's still a theological discussion. Playing their game, if you like; thinking/talking/arguing around the subject of religion, when real freedom of thought means not having to waste any time at all on it.
It's like arguing about whether or not there might be a pin for those angels to dance on.
Problem is that atheists generally do not seek to "preach" but theists will insert themselves into discussions using "straw man" arguments such as "atheism is a religion" or "you need more faith to be an atheist than to be a believer." Then they will use the long discredited "Pascal's Wager" or falsely assert that there is considerable historical evidence for their particular belief (usually Christian or Muslim)
 

AlchoPwn

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Problem is that atheists generally do not seek to "preach" but theists will insert themselves into discussions using "straw man" arguments such as "atheism is a religion" or "you need more faith to be an atheist than to be a believer." Then they will use the long discredited "Pascal's Wager" or falsely assert that there is considerable historical evidence for their particular belief (usually Christian or Muslim)
Well, the Christians generally accuse Dawkins, Dennet and Hitchens of preaching Atheism. It should be noted that the US Supreme Court classed atheism as a religion so that prisoners who were atheists were not denied appropriate religious privileges that other prisoners got.

So let me put this out there...

Are there any agnostics or atheists out there who have heard any arguments from theists that gave them pause? If so, why not discuss them here?

I personally enjoy challenging my belief systems with knotty philosophical problems that get to the roots of my assumptions about the world. I will add that I am an Atheist with strong Buddhist leanings (the two philosophies are quite compatible, strangely enough).
 

Cochise

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We have a devil due to God wanting the heavenly host to bow down before humanity. Rightly so, one angel said "I disagree - we came before mankind, so why should we bow down before them"?

Because I made them said god.

The angel said "No. I refuse to bow down before humanity"

God said suit yourself, and threw that angel out of heaven - down into that deep and stygian cavern called Hell, where it has dwelt ever since.

That is not an all powerful equanimous god that we've been led to believe in - that is a trumplike entity.
God clearly isn't all powerful and omnipotent because its clear from the Bible that He has made mistakes.

A religion doesn't need gods to be a religion. Ask Liverpool supporters :)
 

AnonyJoolz

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I'm very happy to be a believer of the Christian tradition - I'm also very happy for others not to believe. The issue I have is all sides using fundamentalism (both) or utilitarianism (both) to impose extreme viewpoints. We have to arrive at our own conclusions.

If I may quote my good(ish) self:

Personally, I find hardline dismissive pontificating scientists as knobby as zealous religious nutbags. I'm a Christian but find anti-abortion rethoric as disgusting as Prof. Dawkins' recent statement that it was "immoral" to give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. Both as bloody fundamentalist as each other! If Coxy had said something along the lines of "I don't believe people are seeing ghosts, but something even more interesting! then that's fine. Calling people "knobbers" is just lazy. But then so is having an untested 'belief' in ghosts!
 

AlchoPwn

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utilitarianism (both) to impose extreme viewpoints.
I haven't bumped into too many Utilitarian Christians. This is not to suggest that the two philosophies are intrinsically at odds. I am interested as to where such folk predominate to the point that you single them out?
 

AlchoPwn

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Strange factoid, Compare the proportion of non-believers in the USA with the proportion of non-believers in US prison and you will see that non-believers are underrepresented in the prison population.
Of which I am aware. Odd though isn't it? Perhaps it's because Atheists take responsibility for their actions and don't have a man in the sky to forgive them for writing cheques they can't cash?
 

dr wu

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Well, the Christians generally accuse Dawkins, Dennet and Hitchens of preaching Atheism. It should be noted that the US Supreme Court classed atheism as a religion so that prisoners who were atheists were not denied appropriate religious privileges that other prisoners got.

So let me put this out there...

Are there any agnostics or atheists out there who have heard any arguments from theists that gave them pause? If so, why not discuss them here?

I personally enjoy challenging my belief systems with knotty philosophical problems that get to the roots of my assumptions about the world. I will add that I am an Atheist with strong Buddhist leanings (the two philosophies are quite compatible, strangely enough).
I'm agnostic...though I have been interested in eastern religious ideas and ideologies ( did various forms of Hindu and Zen meditation for years..) since college back in 1969.
At any rate...the idea that the Universe just came into being on it's own is as knotty philosophically as it gets...imho. If some 'entity' didn't help create all of this then where did it all come from? To me that's the knotty question.
 

Frideswide

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Of which I am aware. Odd though isn't it? Perhaps it's because Atheists take responsibility for their actions and don't have a man in the sky to forgive them for writing cheques they can't cash?
Or because people develop a religion and or faith under those circumstances?
 

AnonyJoolz

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I haven't bumped into too many Utilitarian Christians. This is not to suggest that the two philosophies are intrinsically at odds. I am interested as to where such folk predominate to the point that you single them out?
I was primarily thinking of the extremists who basically view a woman's body as a receptacle for a foetus and therefore of almost entirely no importance compared to the 'rights' of a developing baby. I wish the fundamentalists of this ilk would care for the life after birth as much as before it. I also find zealous atheists framing issues regarding disabilities and similar in moral terms equally nauseating.

Both viewpoints with historical hindsight, while both seemingly opposing each other, did lead to in extremis examples in our past. Aktion T4 (the extermination of the 'useless eaters' starting with disabled children, and on the other hand the programs to produce perfect children by the dozen a.k.a Lebensborn.

In fiction we have The Handmaid's Tale vs. Logan's Run as another example.

But I'm not here to convince anyone or argue a point. Just share my own views. Sometimes two groups can be seen as two ends of an immense linear spectrum stretching east-west, when maybe they're just a few inches apart on a sphere.
 

INT21

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Wasn't the main theme of Logan's Run the ritual extermination of everyone who reached 35 years ? And the final destruction of that system.

Basically you can have Logan's Run or Soylent Green.
 
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