Debate and Discussion

Does Atheism "make sense" to you?
jakey926 at 2:36PM, March 20, 2007
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Atheism makes perfect sense. Besides people who do religious stuff are usually like friggin' douche bags about it…
the only thing dumber than this signature is the one who's reading it…
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:06PM
mechanical_lullaby at 2:54PM, March 20, 2007
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I'm very close to being an athiest. I don't call myself an athiest because I think I believe in something and I know a lot of athiests who rag on people of the religious persuasion all the time. The fact is that athiesm does make sense. People who are athiests, like christians, don't have to back their views up with raw facts if they don't want to or can't. The stance on it is that even if you don't believe in god you should believe in what you can do before you die. Religion and the lack thereof is a very touchy subject that gets people fired up a bit too much. When it comes to the pure religion, however, I have yet to meet a single group of people in the same orientation believe in the same exact thing. All of them. Because it doesn't make sense to close yourself in like that. Albeit I've never met anyone from a cult or been in one before, but cults don't make sense themselves.

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Ronson at 9:37PM, March 20, 2007
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Someone
I know a lot of athiests who rag on people of the religious persuasion all the time.

Just remember, that is an observation of the person, not atheism. The other thing to remember is to say “I think your belief system is completely ridiculous” is perhaps rude, but no different from what most theists think and say about atheism.

We treat religion as a “hands off” topic in normal conversation. Even more so than politics. I'd like to think it's because religious folk are tolerant of other people's beliefs and don't want to argue, but most of the time it seems to be that they're afraid I'm going to say something that will convince them that they've been wrong.

For every atheist that gets in someone's face about religion, I can show you a thousand religious people to feel superior because they think they figured out which God is the right one to pretend to worship (most folks who profess a belief in God don't really carry it through all the way, especially here in America. But I digress…).

Some folks view atheism as transcendant of religion, when it's actually the opposite.

An atheist and a theist can view the observable facts of nature and agree on certain consistancies in the world. Where they'll diverge is over the unknowable things (life after death being the biggie).

The theist will weave their story of God and explain how everything works together. This story will be based on stories handed down for generations. Some will include magic (resurrections, water to wine, etc.) and some will not.

The atheist contemplates the question and answers “I don't know” and either accepts that there are things he or she will never know or attempts to find them out using scientific deduction.

In other words, the atheist does not go as far as a religious person to answer unknowable questions, essentially because they disbelieve the sources of a theists story.

And I'll tell you, it's the idea that an atheist can just shrug and say “I don't know” (and the more strident ones who add “…and neither do you”) that drives some theists crazy. Theists can accept any answer - even one contradicting their own ideas - over the idea of no answer at all.

The closest we get is with the preponderance of evidence allows us to make guesses, but most atheists won't insist that they are absolutely positively right.

We'll say “I don't think there's such a thing as a soul.” or “the miracles in the Bible contradict all natural laws and are very, very, very, unlikely to have actually occured.” It's almost never a statement of fact, but rather a conclusion drawn from existing evidence.
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reconjsh at 10:28PM, March 20, 2007
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jakey926
Atheism makes perfect sense. Besides people who do religious stuff are usually like friggin' douche bags about it…
You make a convincing arguement.

'Ronson'
The atheist contemplates the question and answers “I don't know” and either accepts that there are things he or she will never know or attempts to find them out using scientific deduction.

In other words, the atheist does not go as far as a religious person to answer unknowable questions, essentially because they disbelieve the sources of a theists story.

And I'll tell you, it's the idea that an atheist can just shrug and say “I don't know” (and the more strident ones who add “…and neither do you” that drives some theists crazy. Theists can accept any answer - even one contradicting their own ideas - over the idea of no answer at all.
I think you might be using a bad definition for “atheist”. It is my understanding that an actual “atheist” claimed to know… claimed to positively know that there is no god(s).

Of course, as I understand it now, atheists now make a disctinction between atheists that “know there's no god” and atheists that simply “don't know”. The latter seems, to me, as an agnostic view and not a traditional atheist's view.

For sake of arguement, can we define our terms as:
(From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
atheist - one who believes that there is no deity
agnostic - a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable


As for this thread “Does Atheism ”make sense“ to you?”. Sure. It makes sense to me that people would come to that conclusion… just as it makes sense to me that someone could come to any conclusion. As the topic is worded, the truth of the conclusion is irrelevant to the question at hand.

That aside…

If there's a God and a heaven, I'd go further to say that atheists - assuming they've led a reasonably decent life - can probably still go to heaven… and there's a fair amount of biblical text to substantiate this claim… which is for another post/thread. I don't think anyone is “doomed to hell” based on much more than how they lived their life… and probably not why they lived as they did. Again, a fair amount of biblical text supports such a claim.
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ozoneocean at 3:39AM, March 21, 2007
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I'm not going to go with dictionary definitions for entire schools of thought, it's just too vast and complex a subject for one sentence explanations. ;)

Besides, you guys are still going on with the false Atheist/theist dualism. As I've explained you can't sensibly do that, you may say I'm being semantic, but this is untrue, the only reason you use this system is because of its convenient semantics. I can't stress enough that approaching this subject in this way (Atheist/theist) is to approach it in a childish, uninformed, and overly simplified way. It's like saying “American/non-American”, or “American/European”, either way the latter is not a real, unified, properly defined group (it can mean anything depending on the intentions of the user), while the former is something more straight forward (but not entirely). A “theist” is not a shorthand term for all religious thinking people…

Rather, since the discussion here is about Atheism, perhaps when you talk about a group in opposition to Atheism for contrast, use a specific group you have some experience of like say, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists (which could be agnostic or deist, depending) etc. These are still very broad groups, but a lot more specific than the inappropriate simplification. :)

Sorry if it seems I'm getting pedantic, it's just that this a a good discussion and people are making great points, but when they're continually going back to the ill-defined dualism, it reminds me of people saying "whites think this way, and blacks think that way", when what they really mean is their experience of their parochial little local communities and not the billions of people around the world with vastly different cultures, histories and geographical dispositions. lol!

-feel free to ignore this though if you think I'm just on a high horse here. :)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:26PM
Ronson at 6:06AM, March 21, 2007
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No high horse, ozone. But I'm not sure how much more there is to say.

As for the definition debate…

atheist - one who believes that there is no deity

Well, that's me. I believe there is no diety. I also have to accept that there is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very small chance that I'm wrong. I cannot disprove - using logic or science - the nonexistence of anything no matter how likely.

Ultimately the answer, if backed into a corner to confirm or deny the supernatural my answer would be “I don't know, but it's unlikely.”

But it is not agnosticism, because agnosticism opens the door for “I believe everything” and I don't.
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ozoneocean at 6:20AM, March 21, 2007
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True, there's trouble all round with definitions, on the minute level as well as the general one. :)

My feelings on the supernatural (gods etc.) are pretty much the same as your's actually Ronson, but if I wanted to use a name for myself I'd probably choose “agnostic”, because I know I cannot ultimately rule out the possibility. It's a case of whether people fit definitions or the definitions fitting people (that's why there's more problems when generalising: greater margin for error). It's quite funny when you look at it like that.
 
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reconjsh at 6:31AM, March 21, 2007
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ozoneocean
I'm not going to go with dictionary definitions for entire schools of thought, it's just too vast and complex a subject for one sentence explanations. ;)

Besides, you guys are still going on with the false Atheist/theist dualism. As I've explained you can't sensibly do that, you may say I'm being semantic, but this is untrue, the only reason you use this system is because of its convenient semantics. I can't stress enough that approaching this subject in this way (Atheist/theist) is to approach it in a childish, uninformed, and overly simplified way. It's like saying “American/non-American”, or “American/European”, either way the latter is not a real, unified, properly defined group (it can mean anything depending on the intentions of the user), while the former is something more straight forward (but not entirely). A “theist” is not a shorthand term for all religious thinking people…

Rather, since the discussion here is about Atheism, perhaps when you talk about a group in opposition to Atheism for contrast, use a specific group you have some experience of like say, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists (which could be agnostic or deist, depending) etc. These are still very broad groups, but a lot more specific than the inappropriate simplification. :)

Sorry if it seems I'm getting pedantic, it's just that this a a good discussion and people are making great points, but when they're continually going back to the ill-defined dualism, it reminds me of people saying "whites think this way, and blacks think that way", when what they really mean is their experience of their parochial little local communities and not the billions of people around the world with vastly different cultures, histories and geographical dispositions. lol!

-feel free to ignore this though if you think I'm just on a high horse here. :)

NOTE: I definied ‘atheism’ to illustrate the point: "atheists know and agnostics don't know" to Ronson who seemed to be using the term atheist incorrectly, at least as standard definitions go.

It strikes me as difficult to have a sensible discussion if no one is using the same definition. So, can someone completely define ATHEIST if the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition will not suffice? Without doing so, clearly we won't be able to have a discussion, but rather a “waiting for my turn to talk” rant session. I don't see why dictionary definitions of ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’ can be discounted as being “over simplified” though. Everything's meaning that is complex in nature would than have an invalid or unusable definition in the dictionary by the above rationale. i.e. Chocolate: “a food prepared from ground roasted cacao beans”. Clearly that definition doesn't fully explain most chocolates… but it does give us a starting point to understand and discuss what is and isn't chocolate and if there's special circumstances that don't meet the “a food prepared from ground roasted cacao beans” standard but is still chocolate, we can address that later, but only if we have a starting point that is commonly agreed upon.

Also, I think after defining the term ‘atheist’, a relevant discussion is about the cores of theism and atheism… because, despite saying the contrary repeatedly, they do differ in a very simply, but to-the-core way. Theism knows/believes there is a God(s). Atheism knows/believes there is not a God(s). Every definition - short or highly specific - begins on that simple premise; that believing in God (or not) is the first and fundamental difference between the two.

If people want to narrow terms down from ‘theism’ v. ‘atheism’ (which, btw, doesn't seem to be the actual topic of the thread) to something like ‘strong American atheism’ vs. ‘Orthodox Catholicism in Russia’ at the beginning of discussion, then the only approach that isn't “childish, uninformed, and overly simplified” would have to be one specific person's theism v. one specific person's atheism under the same logic used to rule out ‘theism’ v. ‘atheism’ as being a valid comparison - the logic being that any two groups presumed to be in opposition can be demonstrated not to be pefectly opposite, thus negating any discussion or relevant criticism based on potential differences.

So again, for sake of discussion and a shared beginning for all discussion/debate participants, I propose the following definitions (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary):
theism - belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world
atheism - a disbelief in the existence of deity // the doctrine that there is no deity
agnostic - person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

Also, I don't see who is actually proposing that “theism and atheism” is a “dualism”. Can someone show me who I'm missing saying that? All I can seem to find are people claiming that one or the other exists independantly, without the other. I don't think anyone should make the claim that they exist simultaneously in reality. Dualism isn't just two opposites existing or two opposing beliefs existing. Rather, dualism is “a theory that considers reality to consist of two irreducible elements or modes”. (again, from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary) Atheism v. theism does not work, because both cannot exist simultaneously in reality.

Anyways, I would very much like to discuss atheism and/or comparative religion with everyone. But, we have to start with agreed upon definitions before we can do so.

~Jerome~

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reconjsh at 6:39AM, March 21, 2007
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Admins Ronson and Double O - How can we discuss anything if we don't agree on the definitions? And the best way to agree is to start with its most basic definition and expand on it through discussion. :(

Defining terms and stating presumptions is the first thing done in a reasonable discussion or debate.

*cries*
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Ronson at 6:59AM, March 21, 2007
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Well, this one will drive you nuts, but the definitions you use for atheist both included variants of the word “belief” … which is where I think they fall flat.

Now, we all believe a lot of things. I believe Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches is the greatest food in the world. I believe that the only purpose to government is to create a stable society and to promote general welfare.

And in the end I do believe there is no God.

But because I - like most atheists - am never willing to completely rule out something without scientific evaluation disproving it, I can't say that I'm necessarily correct. I think the odds that I'm wrong are very slim. “Belief” to an atheist is just an unproven - and possibly unprovable - hypothesis.

So where do I differ from agnostics? I do not think there is any logical basis to religious belief. The preponderonce of evidence collected with scientific studies and true logical thought is that there is no God.

I will never be the atheist equivalent to the rabid fundamentalist who believes in his God to the exclusion of all other beliefs. Very few atheists are, and those who get that fundamentalist atheism are - in my opinion - just lying to themselves.

If you want the definition of atheism that I use, read Richard Dawkin's “The God Delusion” where he explains it in intricate detail.

I know that won't satisfy you. But I am as atheist as you can possibly get without deluding myself that I can know everything. I live my life under the assumption that there is no God, and do not believe in an afterlife upon my death.
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ozoneocean at 7:10AM, March 21, 2007
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Dualism in terms of perceiving them competing belief structures.

simplified definitions from Dictionary.com:
atheism
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Deism
1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism).
2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.

agnosticism
1. the doctrine or belief of an agnostic.
2. an intellectual doctrine or attitude affirming the uncertainty of all claims to ultimate knowledge.

theism
1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).

:) Using definitions for concepts as opposed to objects is problematic because they are schools of thought. You wouldn't have a discussion on the Philosophy of existentialism using a dictionary for reference would you? This is the same situation. But we don't need common definitions really, as long as we can discuss concepts and what they mean to us, as well as what we mean when we use them.

-and despite my new admin status, that doesn't mean I have any more authority in debates than anyone else here (or on any subject in any other forum), I'm just an opinionated, overbearing know-it-all really. ;)
 
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reconjsh at 7:41AM, March 21, 2007
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Okay, now we're at least closer to being on the same page for definitions.

I can see how you're not agnostic then. I'm confused as to why “belief” presents a problem though. The word belief doesn't imply that whatever the word belief is referring to is actually true… just that you have convictions that something is true.

And from what you described, you and probably other atheists fit into the definition provided… at least in my opinion.

I'm not interested in debating anyone over religion vs. no religion/atheism, so I'm glad that the people I've engaged so far haven't made it so. Thanks Ronson for elaborating on atheism some… and thanks for the book recommendation. I'll read it as soon as I can get my hands on it. I've lived in po-dunk small-town Michigan for 2 years now and one of the realities of doing so is accepting that it takes your library 2-4 weeks to get a book in that you want… assuming it's in the system in the first place. So I'll read it once I can get it.

I know you can't speak for all atheists - obviously - but you talked about how you “live your life under the assumption there is no God”. I wonder if you could elaborate on that? I don't fault anyone for that doctrine alone… because living under the assumption that there IS a God can lead people to mitigate the significance of THIS life… and it IS this life that matters, even from a biblical or religious standpoint. So if you don't mind me asking, do you live your life as though you'll have to be accountable to someone sooner or later, even if that someone is simply an older version of you thinking back on your life or the people you like/love currently in your life? Or do you live life more as avoiding undesirable consequences and/or for individual desires without regard to others?

Do you think most atheists share your belief on this?

Please don't read into this question too much. It may sound harsh, but I really do have honest intentions of learning move about atheists… I just can't find a great way of wording the question. ;)

I hope that makes sense.
Please note:
* This is NOT an arguement against atheism that I'm trying to make.
* Nor is it an arguement FOR theism/religion.
* I simply want to understand atheism better. So to do so, I'm asking a specific atheist about his personal experience. The question is open to any other atheist that wants to answer it too.
* I'm not asking Ronson to speak on behalf of every atheist. I'm just asking him to speak on behalf of Ronson and what he thinks.
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reconjsh at 7:47AM, March 21, 2007
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ozoneocean
Dualism in terms of perceiving them competing belief structures.

simplified definitions from Dictionary.com:
atheism
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Deism
1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation (distinguished from theism).
2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.

agnosticism
1. the doctrine or belief of an agnostic.
2. an intellectual doctrine or attitude affirming the uncertainty of all claims to ultimate knowledge.

theism
1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).

:) Using definitions for concepts as opposed to objects is problematic because they are schools of thought. You wouldn't have a discussion on the Philosophy of existentialism using a dictionary for reference would you? This is the same situation. But we don't need common definitions really, as long as we can discuss concepts and what they mean to us, as well as what we mean when we use them.

-and despite my new admin status, that doesn't mean I have any more authority in debates than anyone else here (or on any subject in any other forum), I'm just an opinionated, overbearing know-it-all really. ;)

The whole point of defining terms, is so we have common starting ground. I'm not asking you to define atheism in its entirety in 1-2 sentences, but to give everyone a common starting ground and the best way to do so is start out with the core of the principle, subject, word, philosophy, or whatever.

Example: If we were going to discuss christianity, it'd be appropriate to define it as “The religion derived from the teachings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible”. Clearly this isn't all incompasing and shouldn't be used as the sole definition of christianity - my christianity is very different from, let's say, Westboro Baptist Church's christianity. But, we'll never get to discuss those differences if we don't start with the core definition of christianity. I think the same holds true for atheism. Or discussion on chocolate. Or mammals. OR… you get the point.

And clearly, this was successful because with me defining the terms, Ronson was able to create an expanded definition of agnostics and atheists and now we can move forward into further defining those terms and discussing atheism - which, I think, is the true nature of this thread: to discuss atheism and its merits (or possible lack of) and not to pit atheism against theism.
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ozoneocean at 7:58AM, March 21, 2007
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Ronson was already predisposed to some of those definitions anyway. ;)
You are free to ignore anything I write about this subject though, I'm not trying to moderate the debate, what I put down there is just part of the discussion.
 
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reconjsh at 8:20AM, March 21, 2007
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ozoneocean
Ronson was already predisposed to some of those definitions anyway. ;)
You are free to ignore anything I write about this subject though, I'm not trying to moderate the debate, what I put down there is just part of the discussion.
Well, I don't intend on ignoring anything you say. It just might be hard to effectively communicate with one another. ;) I think we can make due though.

I don't even know what we're talking about anyways. The last page was about definitions.

Someone want to kick start this mama?
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ozoneocean at 8:28AM, March 21, 2007
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Ah, I have to do a bit of work, but Kingofsnake will likely kick it into gear again.

I will say though that concepts are more important to me personally. Just trying to get your head around the differences between the definitions of “Theism” and “Deism” there are enough to send the mind into thinking about deeper territory.
 
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reconjsh at 9:43AM, March 21, 2007
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I found it tough to see the difference between deism and theism using dictionary.com.

So, I referenced websters and here's what I found:
deism: a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe

theism: belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world

The difference seems much more apparent. I, myself, do believe in a higher power though I admit I don't understand it. So under the above, simple definitions, I'd consider myself a theist. As for how deeper definitions go, I'm probably not a theist there's probably a better term for what I am. Perhaps even “agnostic” in the sense that I just don't know… but I believe there is a findable truth to be known and that I just haven't found it yet despite my intense searching… and that is something agnostics do not believe.

On a side note, I have rationalized the following in regards to religion:
Presumption: Jesus Christ was/is the son of God.
After abundant and thorough study (which is never ending), I've concluded that if Jesus and the theological text of the Bible are real and true, then Catholicism is the correct christian religion. (feel free to start a new catholicism vs. denominations thread if you want to hear my arguements for catholicism… they're not for this thread)

Basically: IF there's a God AND Jesus Christ was his son, THEN catholicism is what I think is right.

But, like the description of atheists in this forum, I find it difficult to truely believe that there's a God. If find it equally difficult to not believe there's a God. So, am I religious? Yes, in the sense that I use religion(s) passed through my own filters to create a moral compass for myself and a standard by which I feel my fellow man should also achieve. I participate in some of catholicism, but I wouldn't (at this period of my life) define myself as a “catholic”. Stated simply: I don't practice with the team, so I'm not on the team. I'm not even sure I'd call myself a christian. Why? Because I have a lot of doubts. I also study and follow tenets of other religions. I've got very strong feelings that christianity and therefore catholicism is the right path and the right truth, but until I fully believe, I'm neither technically christian nor catholic. I do think that in the end there's a good chance I'll come to the conclusion that christianity/catholicism is correct, but people really interested in learning and discovering truth don't start with a conclusion/theory and then work backwards to hypothesis. Heck, in the end I may come to the conclusion that there is no God.

Please don't see me as a hypocrit. Instead, please see me as man deligently searching for the answer and has thus far not come to a conclusion. I enjoy living my life by the christian/catholic tenets and the truth of God is irrelevant in regards to me gaining satisfaction in my life by following said tenets.

Mainly, I just love learning and discovering truth, as I'm sure atheists do too. And I agree with atheists that take sides against christianity that is just accepted without any thought behind it. Heck, I often take sides against any position without thought behind it… mostly because I enjoy learning and also debating about things I've learned. It's always fun debating someone and taking a side you don't agree with. Debate isn't about ultimate truth anyways… debate is about applying logic and procedure in making a conclusion… and I enjoy practicing doing just that, whatever the side.

Long post there… I should go back and edit it some, but I'm kind of tired now.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
Ronson at 11:04AM, March 21, 2007
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I know you can't speak for all atheists - obviously - but you talked about how you “live your life under the assumption there is no God”. I wonder if you could elaborate on that? I don't fault anyone for that doctrine alone… because living under the assumption that there IS a God can lead people to mitigate the significance of THIS life… and it IS this life that matters, even from a biblical or religious standpoint.

I will, but I'm going to pick at the last sentence for a few seconds…

The only place you go wrong here is in saying that this life matters from a “religious” standpoint. That really depends upon which religion you've chosen.

There are Christians who believe that what you do in this life has no significance and that you only enter into heaven by what they call “God's grace”. This is hazily defined, but basically it boils down to if you're on his list, he lets you in. Being on the list has absolutely no relevance to the way you live your life BUT (and this is where they get ya) if you live your life under their definition of a “true Christian”, that's an indication that you could very well be on the list.

If you don't believe this, join some of the rather fatiguing debate on sites like www.carm.org .

Anyway, back to me:

So if you don't mind me asking, do you live your life as though you'll have to be accountable to someone sooner or later, even if that someone is simply an older version of you thinking back on your life or the people you like/love currently in your life? Or do you live life more as avoiding undesirable consequences and/or for individual desires without regard to others?

1. I am accountable to no one but myself. I am responsible for my decisions and any repurcussions they have.

2. I live my life like this were my one shot because I do believe it is. After the X number of years I have there will never be another me, so I want it to be of some worth.

3. Undesirable consequences are sometimes the result of risk. In my life, I have taken risks and used caution where I felt it was best. The results are always mine to own. If I risked something and won then I earned it. If I risked something and lost, then I own the result and hope I learn from the experience.

4. As a member of society - any society (family, city, state, world) - I have a social obligation to treat people fairly and to help those who need it as best I can. The reasoning for this obligation is that ultimately it will increase my well being. If someone does not want to be part of the society they do not have this obligation, but they should then not accept society's rewards (such as friendship or public services).

5. I treat others as if they also only have this one shot at life, because I believe they do. I believe anyone who believes otherwise is either wrong or lying. I believe anyone who tries to force others to follow their beliefs is anti-society and reprehensible.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
reconjsh at 11:44AM, March 21, 2007
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Ronson
I will, but I'm going to pick at the last sentence for a few seconds…
The only place you go wrong here is in saying that this life matters from a “religious” standpoint. That really depends upon which religion you've chosen.
There are Christians who believe that what you do in this life has no significance and that you only enter into heaven by what they call “God's grace”. This is hazily defined, but basically it boils down to if you're on his list, he lets you in. Being on the list has absolutely no relevance to the way you live your life BUT (and this is where they get ya) if you live your life under their definition of a “true Christian”, that's an indication that you could very well be on the list.
If you don't believe this, join some of the rather fatiguing debate on sites like www.carm.org.
I figured that wording what bite me in the butt. You're absolutely right about that stuff, points that I already knew (and thus I shouldn't of misworded my question, lol)

Let me clarify:
1) By “religious” I meant “christian” since that is only religion I can speak intelligently about. It was poor, bias wording. My bad.
Thus 2) In the context of christianity, people who think that it's a matter of “speak the magic words of accepting Jesus; get on the list; and what you do with this life doesn't matter other than accepting” have poor understanding of what the Bible says/means. They are victums of their own ignorance. (A debate for another forum)

Ronson
Undesirable consequences are sometimes the result of risk…
Mainly, what I meant here was more “fear of incarceration” and/or “fear of getting punched out” type of consequences rather than then ones you described. Again, poor wording on my part.

I guess, I was curious what guided the average, educated atheist in terms of right and wrong. (I don't really care what people who haven't put any thought into what their beliefs are thinks) I supposed if one held that the only thing important in this life was “living this life”, that perhaps that person would then be guided only by what they selfishly felt/wanted/desired/etc and their actions would be constrained only by consequences they wanted to avoid.

While I think on a basic level there's some truth to that, on a larger more realistic level there's much more to what we do than “I do what I want as long as I accept the known consquences” guiding our actions.

I guess my revised question is: “While I can clearly observe that most atheists I've seen are guided by more than just ‘personal desires limited only by unwanted consequences’, is this an ideal tenet of the average atheist? Is this something an ”ideal atheist“ created by atheists would value or appreciate?

I know that ”what guides us to do what is ‘right and wrong’" has nothing to do with defining atheism… I'm just curious if atheists as a whole value such an idealization?

Make sense? I hope so.

Thanks for discussing…
~Jerome~
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
Ronson at 12:04PM, March 21, 2007
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While I can clearly observe that most atheists I've seen are guided by more than just ‘personal desires limited only by unwanted consequences’, is this an ideal tenet of the average atheist? Is this something an “ideal atheist” created by atheists would value or appreciate?

I think more atheists think about the consequences of their actions more than the average theist. Very few atheists arrive at their conclusions as a result of indoctrination.

But the answer is the same for both atheists and theists. I mean, is the only reason theists do good things because they fear punishment from God? No, the notion is just silly.

Why have a strong ethical code? Because doing so - and following it - limits one's troubles in society and makes for a happier life. It really isn't that difficult to justify ethics without using religion.

Again, read “The God Delusion” … he says it tons better than I do.
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reconjsh at 12:17PM, March 21, 2007
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Ronson
Again, read “The God Delusion” … he says it tons better than I do.

I will… I already called my library and they're getting it shipped here. They said it'd be 1-2 weeks. Like I said before, it'll probably take 2-4 weeks. :(

Maybe I can find it on the internet. ;)
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kingofsnake at 12:35PM, March 21, 2007
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Ronson
I think more atheists think about the consequences of their actions more than the average theist. Very few atheists arrive at their conclusions as a result of indoctrination.

I'd say its about equal. Theres alot of athiests who don't think about why they do what they do. Theists of that disposition just use God. But not all theists are of that disposition. Just because I'm Catholic doesn't mean that the explaination I have for my ethics is religious. Religion should coincide with morality not be the reason for morality. I do good deeds because they are good, not because they are demanded by God. Thats part of the theological explaination why a good God doesn't reveal himself. Doing deeds for the sake of personal gain, be in entrence to heaven, or nirvana, or earthly praise, is not the same as doing good deeds for their own sake. I think anyone who has the disposition wherein they examine the nature of their ethics will do so regardless of religious affiliation.

I've read snippets of the God Delusion. It strikes me as bereft of theological intelligence. Arguing things that are beside the point, and distractions from the real topic, rather than a cohesive argument for athiesm. I've seen better arguments for athiesm on this forum than that book.
Metacritic review

A couple of the reveiws I agree with most:

New York Times Book Review
Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience.

and

London Review of Books
Dawkins could have told us all this without being so appallingly bitchy about those of his scientific colleagues who disagree with him, and without being so theologically illiterate.

If you want to read good arguments for athiesm, go pick up some Camus


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Ronson at 12:59PM, March 21, 2007
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Or Bertrand Russell.

Or Isaac Asimov.

Or Kurt Vonnegut.

Or Mark Twain.

Or Douglas Adams.

Or Sam Harris.

Dawkins explores every argument posed by theists and knocks them down. It's a good book, and a fun read. But if you go into it thinking that Dawkins is a jerk and his views on religion are wrong, you won't enjoy it. His arguments are unassailable in any logical way, but completely offensive to those who want to get offended.

He doesn't make up new reasons that atheism makes sense, because he doesn't need any.
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kingofsnake at 1:16PM, March 21, 2007
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Ronson
Or Kurt Vonnegut.

hells yes

Ronson
Dawkins explores every argument posed by theists and knocks them down. It's a good book, and a fun read. But if you go into it thinking that Dawkins is a jerk and his views on religion are wrong, you won't enjoy it. His arguments are unassailable in any logical way, but completely offensive to those who want to get offended.

My problem with him is not that he's an offensive jerk, my problems are with his logic. It's easy to write down an argument without examining counter arguments and seem absolutely sound. The only good written thought examines both sides to find out which side is the most cohesive. Dawkins doesn't do this; he is so sure he's right that he just argues his side without properly addressing counter arguments that his opposition might have. He just says “this is my argument for how it is, and I don't feel like listening to anyone else's argument to the contrary, because they're blinded by religion and couldn't possibly have logical arguments that oppose mine” which is an attitude that some athiests have that is absolutely reprehensible, and doesn't belong in an intelligent conversation about theology. And one final point that is a big mistep of Dawkins, and many athiests at that, actions by religions people in the name of religion are not indicitive to the quality of that religion, or that of theology in general. Lots of people make some pretty stupid mistakes because they base their ethics on religion, instead of basing their ethics on self reflection. This is not religion's fault. This is their fault for being too lazy to think things through. The sooner people like dawkins can get around to talking about concepts instead of specifics the better our debates will be. Concepts is all that theology provides.

None of the other authors you listed argue one-sidedly like Dawkins did, thats why 50 years from now books Slaughterhouse 5, The Fall, Catcher in the Rye, and Heart of Darkness will still be required reading, and Dawkins will be gathering dust on a library shelf somewhere
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Ronson at 1:39PM, March 21, 2007
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kingofsnake
My problem with him is not that he's an offensive jerk, my problems are with his logic. It's easy to write down an argument without examining counter arguments and seem absolutely sound. The only good written thought examines both sides to find out which side is the most cohesive. Dawkins doesn't do this; he is so sure he's right that he just argues his side without properly addressing counter arguments that his opposition might have. He just says “this is my argument for how it is, and I don't feel like listening to anyone else's argument to the contrary, because they're blinded by religion and couldn't possibly have logical arguments that oppose mine” which is an attitude that some athiests have that is absolutely reprehensible, and doesn't belong in an intelligent conversation about theology. And one final point that is a big mistep of Dawkins, and many athiests at that, actions by religions people in the name of religion are not indicitive to the quality of that religion, or that of theology in general. Lots of people make some pretty stupid mistakes because they base their ethics on religion, instead of basing their ethics on self reflection. This is not religion's fault. This is their fault for being too lazy to think things through. The sooner people like dawkins can get around to talking about concepts instead of specifics the better our debates will be. Concepts is all that theology provides.

To believe this, you must not have read the actual book, which you have admitted.

I can only say that in reading the book that Dawkins makes an effort to fairly detail every theological reason for the belief in God and then he deconstructs it in a very logical and rational manner.

Unless you want to point to an actual passage of the book, I will assume you are only coloring your statement without actually having any real information of what Dawkins wrote.

None of the other authors you listed argue one-sidedly like Dawkins did, thats why 50 years from now books Slaughterhouse 5, The Fall, Catcher in the Rye, and Heart of Darkness will still be required reading, and Dawkins will be gathering dust on a library shelf somewhere

Well, these books are immortal because they're written better and are fiction. Dawkins book will be the atheist handbook for a good long while.
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kingofsnake at 1:58PM, March 21, 2007
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Ronson
To believe this, you must not have read the actual book, which you have admitted.

I picked it up in a bookstore because I was interested in it. I only read a few pages but didn't see him present any original arguments but only rehash multiple arguments from other athiests, and then not respond to counter-arguments that have been presented since the original arguments were placed. He was very passionate, but he did not say anything I hadn't heard before in a more convincing way, and hadn't also heard counter-arguments that found flaws in it's logic, so why would I read the whole thing.

In retrospect I should've included Beyond Good and Evil on that list as well. It's not fiction. It's author was a jerk. But it's got more solid original arguments for athiesm in a few pages than anything I read in Dawkins. I disagree with almost everything Nietzche says, but that doesn't mean its not a strong argument.

Change my mind. Enjoy reading philosophy and theology alike, especially if the author has a different opinion than me. Cite me a passage that has an strong, original, two-sided argument for athiesm and I'll give the book a second chance.
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Ronson at 2:10PM, March 21, 2007
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Since you say you easily found places where Dawkins ignores existing counteragurments, I think it would be far easier if you pointed these out specifically.

Especially since you say the argument he presents that were easily countered were in the beginning of the book.

Otherwise, I'll end up having to go through the book and point out every argument until I find the one you're referring to.
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kingofsnake at 2:26PM, March 21, 2007
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It was somewhere in the middle that I read. I don't remember what the actual argument I read was, I only remember reading enough to form an opinion on the book as a whole.

Kinda like how I knew I wouldn't like The Scarlett Letter after the first three pages, how I knew I'd love Jane Eyre after the first two, and that I knew I'd think Confederacy of Dunces was good but over-rated by the end of chapter one. Or that Kierkegaard was a genius from a paragraph, and that Thomas Moore was short-sighted after three sentences. All these books I finished and felt I was correct in my early judgment of. I made a snap judgment on Dawkins book from a few pages, and had no reason to doubt it, especially with the nature of all of the critical reveiws, good, bad, and otherwise.

I don't want you to cite me the argument that I saw. I want you to cite me an argument that you hold up as one of the better one's in the book. If I haven't already heard a counter-argument to it, I'll give the book a second chance. You say that he has flawless logic that trounces anything theism has. Give me an example of it. If his logic is that flawless then I won't have already heard a counter-argument to it.
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Ronson at 5:52PM, March 21, 2007
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Yeah, we're not getting anywhere here. You don't remember what you didn't like about the book and I loved every page. Therefore, we disagree. You think that you might have possibly read something that was disproven but don't know if it addressed elsewhere in the book.

In short, you picked up the book, flipped a few pages, were turned off by the writing style and put it down. You didn't read the book, you aren't able to actually describe the argument you think he made that was weak.

What you want me to do is come at you with every argument in the book and you will either agree with or disagree with them as they come. This seems like a lot of work on my part and it isn't my goal to convince anyone either to be an atheist or to like Dawkin's writing.

I liked it, I found his arguments compelling and useful, and your interpretation of the book is colored by your opinion of a few pages and some critical reviews. Which is fine. I do the same thing with certain books, just not this one. The only thing that I will say is that I personally didn't see any flaws in his arguments (except for one section which isn't so much as an argument as it is an editorial … how he wishes society would treat children. It was a bit too heavy handed and I'm still kicking it around in my head). Maybe you have compelling evidence to the contrary, but it's not my responsibility to find it for you.

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
kingofsnake at 6:28PM, March 21, 2007
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I really only wanted to hear one of the arguments, not have a tete a tete about all of them. You seem like an intelligent guy. I figured that if there was a specifically laudable argument in this book which you hold in such high esteem that you wouldn't really have any trouble providing it.

If you just don't feel like doing it that's fine.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM

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