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posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 07:47 PM
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A quick question: If I believe in God, but not any organized religion. Am I an atheist?
Thanks,
MH




posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 07:51 PM
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Originally posted by madhatter
A quick question: If I believe in God, but not any organized religion. Am I an atheist?
Thanks,
MH
Quick answer: no.



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 08:44 PM
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Originally posted by supercheetah
I thought that post was directed at me. Now I'm not sure.


It was directed at you, the OP (Original Poster)


I see what you mean about people asking you questions. I guess the religious who hang out here either have had their questions asked or maybe they're just not curious.

I appreciate you being so open, though.



posted on Dec, 28 2006 @ 11:50 PM
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Okay, here are three questions.

1. Speaking as an atheist, what do you make of the near-universal popularity of religion?

2. Arnold Toynbee once said, more or less, that civilization was driven by religion and existed to serve it. Your views?

3. Is religion distinct from ethics? In other words, can you be a moral person if you don't have a religion?

That should keep things going for a bit.



posted on Dec, 29 2006 @ 09:13 AM
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I'll have a crack at these and I'd love to hear supercheetah's thoughts as well.



Originally posted by Astyanax
1. Speaking as an atheist, what do you make of the near-universal popularity of religion?


I kind of answered this in another post, www.belowtopsecret.com...
so I'll copy the applicable contents (slightly edited) to here. These are just my thoughts and opinions on the matter of the need for a belief in God and religion in some people's lives.

But why do they believe in God?

Aside from having their personal experiences, I think people have, since the beginning of thought, wondered how we got here, why we're here and where we're going. So, in this wondering, a story started to evolve...

Since we're just lowly man, someone had to put us here. And that someone must be a big, all-powerful, all knowing God... And it certainly helps them to have someone out there to "turn over their problems to". It helps them to have someone to pray to... to make it seem like they're doing something when a loved one has been in an accident or is dying of cancer. It helps many people to feel and believe that there's 'someone' out there who loves them more than words can express... 'someone' who cares and will help them if they need it. It feels secure to them to know that they and their future are "in God's hands" or to say when their loved one dies, "It's God's will."

For many people, a belief in God is what carries them along in life. It helps them. They need it. They want it. And I don't see a thing wrong with it. If it's what they want in their life, I don't have a problem with it.

Now, this belief in the unseen and unproven is justified when people of like mind gather and reinforce their beliefs. When people who believe in the same thing gather together and validate each others' beliefs in this unseen and unproven story, it seems more real and they feel more rational when huge groups of people believe the same way.

It's no longer one person believing in a possible fantasy without proof or logic, it's thousands and millions believing the same thing, so it MUST be true.

It's easier to believe in something invisible and unverified if millions of people agree, thus religion is needed to create a cohesive, organized belief system for beliefs that would otherwise be difficult to hold onto and believe in. Weekly reinforcement nourishes and maintains the beliefs.



2. Arnold Toynbee once said, more or less, that civilization was driven by religion and existed to serve it. Your views?


I'm not familiar with the man and I'm not sure what the statement means, so I'm staying away from that one. Suffice it to say, I disagree with the statement as interpreted.




3. Is religion distinct from ethics? In other words, can you be a moral person if you don't have a religion?


Absolutely! I don't label myself anything as regards a belief in God, but I do say that I don't have a religion. And I'm one of the most honorable, moral people you'll ever know. My ethics are far above many people I see who claim to be of religious authority and practice. I don't lie, I don't cheat, I'm honest and have strong integrity. Anybody who knows me will tell you this. And I decided to live my life by these high standards long after I was free of any religious connections or associations. These standards come from me, not a religious text or religion.

In fact, when I was involved in religion, I was far from the moral person I am today.

Great questions!



posted on Dec, 29 2006 @ 09:22 AM
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Are bananas really an atheist's nightmare?

youtube.com...




On a more serious note, Susan Jacoby was noting how atheists and secularists are excluded from discussions of the place of faith in politics in the good old USA. Why do you think this is the case?

Susan Jacoby - No Atheists (still) need apply



posted on Dec, 29 2006 @ 10:03 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
Okay, here are three questions.

1. Speaking as an atheist, what do you make of the near-universal popularity of religion?

It's a part of who we are. Early man wanted a way to make sense of the world, and lacking the modern tools of science, religion was the next best thing. Over time, we've self-selected individuals prone to religious thought. There is evidence to show that this self-selection has given rise to a part of the brain susceptible to religious thinking, and that being a given, it's no surprise that religion is so prevalent in so society.

2. Arnold Toynbee once said, more or less, that civilization was driven by religion and existed to serve it. Your views?
I would say that that's hitherto been true to a certain extent. Religion in the West began to lessen its influence on civilization during the Renaissance, but no more so than it does today. Secularism is finally becoming an influence, and certain religious people--fundamentalist Muslims, Christians, and Jews most noteably--are naturally fighting the encroachment of secularism into their governments.


3. Is religion distinct from ethics? In other words, can you be a moral person if you don't have a religion?

That should keep things going for a bit.
Absolutely. I believe that to a certain extent morality is wired into us thanks to the evolutionary process. In fact, I would say that all mammals have some degree of morality. For example, a common trait amongst all mammals is their willingness to care for their young. Most reptiles can only be bothered to care for their eggs, but once they hatch, those youngsters are on their own. Some can't even be bothered to care for their eggs. However, being the intelligent species we are, we haven't simply left morality to its most primal nature. We have refined it over the course of human history, and the morality given to us today is a combination of both our most basic instincts, and the lessons we've learnt from history in the hopes of continuing human progress (which is also a part of our most basic instinct).

In other words, just as elephants will herd around their young to protect them, we would do the same because we are at our core a moral creature. I require no deity to tell me that I'm a moral person or what my morals ought to be. Socrates once asked Euthyphro the question, “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?"

[edit on 12/29/2006 by supercheetah]



posted on Dec, 29 2006 @ 11:06 AM
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Originally posted by melatonin
Are bananas really an atheist's nightmare?

youtube.com...


Hehe. I tremble at the site of bananas. All that potassium goes to my head, literally!

Hmm, actually, a severe deficiency of potassium could prevent someone from trembling. It would prevent a person from trembling due to hypokalemia which has the symptoms of muscle weakness, fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, and other things of which I might not be aware. So eat your bananas! Eat this guy too:


On a more serious note, Susan Jacoby was noting how atheists and secularists are excluded from discussions of the place of faith in politics in the good old USA. Why do you think this is the case?

Susan Jacoby - No Atheists (still) need apply
I think that religion, particularly monotheism, does something strange to the mind that, like a virus, wants to spread itself not just amongst individuals, but also into human institutions. I'm really not sure how to explain that.

And that's fine when those institutions only affect the religious (like churches), but governments must govern both the religious and non-religious, so when religion begins to encroach upon government (a.k.a. theocracy), it begins to lose its perspective on not only the non-religious, but also those religious views of a different perspective than that of the majority. It's a dangerous game to play.



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 01:15 AM
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Originally posted by supercheetah


Originally posted by Astyanax
Speaking as an atheist, what do you make of the near-universal popularity of religion?

It's a part of who we are. Early man wanted a way to make sense of the world, and lacking the modern tools of science, religion was the next best thing. Over time, we've self-selected individuals prone to religious thought. There is evidence to show that this self-selection has given rise to a part of the brain susceptible to religious thinking, and that being a given, it's no surprise that religion is so prevalent in so society.

If your statement is true, it implies that there is a survival advantage in being religious. You might say the advantage was self-perpetuating -- ie that religious people who live in predominantly religious societies survive and reproduce more effectively in those societies than atheists do.

And that, indeed, is what much of the sociological and economic literature on the subject implies:


Iannaccone (1998) discusses a range of studies of the economic consequences or correlates of religious participation, for example Freeman’s (1986) finding that blacks that attend church are less likely to smoke, drink, or engage in drug use...

More recent studies have focused on the consequences of religious participation. Gruber (2005) finds that increased religious participation leads to higher educational attainment and income, less dependence on social insurance programs and higher rates of marriage... Using micro data, MacCulloch and Pezzini (2004) find that religious participation reduces the taste for revolution....

There is also a large literature examining the correlation between religious participation and subjective measures of wellbeing and distress (Diener et al. 1999, Parmagent 2002, and Smith et al. 2003).... A number of studies find that [religious participation] can attenuate the effect of traumatic events on subjective wellbeing or depression.

There is also a large literature on the correlation between religious belief and health outcomes; see, for example, McCullough et al. (2000).

So the prevalence of religious faith in those societies would tend toward the universal over time. Atheism would be effectively selected out.

But what about predominantly secular societies? Surely a predisposition toward religious belief would not improve an individual's survival and reproductive prospects in such a society? We have, as far as I am able to discover, no equally substantial body of literature on that subject. And why? Because there are few (if any) genuinely secular societies to study.

If there ever was a competition between social groups for resources and survival, religious societies have long since won it and eradicated their competitors. True, secularism made the beginnings of a comeback in the late twentieth century, particularly in places like Japan and the UK, but it's really too early to tell whether modern secularized societies will enjoy any better long-term success than their primordial predecessors, the hypothetical secular social groupings of early humans that were outcompeted and consigned to oblivion by the religious ones whose dominance is today all but universal.

All of which raises a fourth question:

4. What, if anything, is the use of atheism?

Eagerly awaiting your reply, I remain, etc...

[edit on 2-1-2007 by Astyanax]



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 02:19 AM
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Originally posted by supercheetah
So, if you have any questions you've always wanted to ask of an atheist, ask here.


Who is not born being an atheist?

Who is born supplied with enough proof to have already decided God exists?

Isn't atheism a birthright?

So, does an atheist believe they have experience of percieving a world without a God, while people of faith do not have any atheistic experiences?

So, does an atheist believe they can effectively debate both sides of the issue, if they have no experience whatsoever from the other side of the fence?

thanks for creating a thread where i can present such questions.

-john

[edit on 2-1-2007 by Esoteric Teacher]



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 02:27 AM
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Religion, mental health and ethnicity. EMPIRIC--A national survey of England

Author King, Michael1; Weich, Scott1; Nazroo, James2; Blizard, Bob1

Affiliation (1)Department of Mental Health Sciences, Royal Free & University College Medical School, London, United Kingdom; (2)Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, United Kingdom

Source Journal of Mental Health. Vol 15(2), Apr 2006, pp. 153-162

Abstract

Background: Higher levels of religious involvement are modestly associated with better health, after taking account of other influences. However, most research takes little account of spiritual beliefs that are not tied to personal or public religious practice. Objectives: To compare prevalence and characteristics of religious and spiritual views of life in representative samples of all principal ethnic groups in England and to examine associations between these views and common mental disorders (CMD). Method: Face-to-face interviews with 4281 adults from six ethnic groups living in private households in England. Data were collected on common mental disorders, religious and spiritual beliefs, quality of life, social function and support, and psychotic symptoms. Results: There was no difference in prevalence of CMD between people who were religious and those who were not. However, people who held a spiritual life view but without religious practice were more likely to have CMD (OR = 2.01, CI 1.15, 3.51) than people who held a religious life view, after adjustment for relevant confounding variables. Conclusions: Lack of religious belief was associated with a higher prevalence of CMD, but only in people who reported having a spiritual life view. Declaration of interest: None. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)


So, although previous results show a modest relationship, it looks like having no religion isn't an issue as long as you don't have a spiritual life view, in england anyway. I can understand why atheists may be a bit more stressed in the good old USA.

But we should also mention that religiosity is negatively correlated with intelligence and positively associated with prejudice and right-wing authoritarianism.


Religion and prejudice: The role of religious fundamentalism, quest, and right-wing authoritarianism

Author Hunsburger, Bruce

Affiliation (1)Wilfrid Laurier U, Dept of Psychology, Waterloo, ON, Canada

Source Journal of Social Issues. Special Issue: Religious influences on personal and societal well-being. Vol 51(2), Sum 1995, pp. 113-129

Empirical evidence provides little support for the effectiveness of teaching tolerance and love toward others by the major world religions, and a considerable body of research suggests that, at a general level, religion and prejudice (PJ) are positively correlated. Suggestions that this relationship is actually curvilinear and possibly a result of differences in intrinsic/extrinsic religious orientation are questioned. Recent investigations suggest that conceptualizations of religious fundamentalism (FDM) and quest offer better ways of distinguishing between more and less prejudiced individuals. Further, the FDM and quest relationships with PJ are especially meaningful in light of an association with right-wing authoritarianism. Limitations and implications of the related research are discussed. It is suggested that it is not religion per se, but rather the ways in which individuals hold their religious beliefs, which are associated with PJ. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 07:09 AM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
Who is not born being an atheist?


No one.



Who is born supplied with enough proof to have already decided God exists?


See above.




Isn't atheism a birthright?




Main Entry: birth·right
: a right, privilege, or possession to which a person is entitled by birth


Atheism is not what I'd call a birthright. We're born not knowing anything about religion or this idea of a deity. It's just the way it is. It's not an entitlement. We also don't know language or rocket science. We also don't have knowledge or proof of fairy tales or Santa Claus. We don't know that the world is a dangerous and wonderful place. All of these things are taught to us or are learned through experiences in our lives.

Atheism is no more a birthright than illiteracy, nakedness or race. Nudity is not a 'birthright', it's just a fact. We are born (virtually) a blank sheet and information is imprinted on us. The idea that there's a deity is ALWAYS taught, never discovered on one's own. Just as we learn to read, cover our bodies or what it means to be the race we are, we also learn (usually from our parents, who believe in God) that a deity exists and his name is God. They also teach us about shame and Santa Claus. But we later learn that Santa was a lie. (If we're lucky, we learn that shame is a lie, too. Many of those who do, go on to experience nudist lifestyles, realizing that the way we were born is nothing to be ashamed of.)

Some people just go on to learn that since there's no indication that God is something real, even though their parents still push the fantasy, God is in the same camp with Santa somewhere.



So, does an atheist believe they have experience of percieving a world without a God, while people of faith do not have any atheistic experiences?


Keeping in mind that no one person can speak for all atheists, I would answer this question no. Not all atheists believe that 'people of faith' have always been so. I'm sure there are 'people of faith' who once didn't believe there was a God. I'm also sure that there are atheists who once held a strong belief in God.



So, does an atheist believe they can effectively debate both sides of the issue, if they have no experience whatsoever from the other side of the fence?


I've never been gay or black or a man either, but I can debate the issues around these subjects with the best of them.


And most atheists DO have the experience from the other side of the fence. The majority of people in the US are raised being taught (even if unformally) that there is a God. It's only after careful consideration that they realize the only real reason they have in believing in such an idea is because they were taught to believe so.

For many, it's much like the realization at 11 years old that Santa is just an idea that serves a purpose. Some people need the idea, some don't.



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 07:24 AM
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Supercheetah,

Do you as an atheist believe in extra terrestrials?



posted on Jan, 2 2007 @ 12:06 PM
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Originally posted by GameSetMatch
Supercheetah,

Do you as an atheist believe in extra terrestrials?
I believe that there is a high probability that there are other life forms in the Universe besides the ones found here on Earth, and I believe that there is almost as high of a probability that some of them are as intelligent or more so than we are. Our Universe is so big that it just doesn't seem likely that we are alone.

Have they visited Earth? Of that, I'm not so certain.



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 01:42 PM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic

Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
Who is not born being an atheist?


No one.



This alone is probably the main arguement "believers" of "faith" have for their point of view.

Although "believers" can already relate to the view and perspective of atheists, atheists cannot always relate to the view and perspective of "believers", as they have no basis for reference throughout all their experiences, since they have had no experiences observing anything as a "believer", however "believers" do have experience of observing as an atheist.



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 03:31 PM
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Your assumptions blow your argument out of the water.


Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
Although "believers" can already relate to the view and perspective of atheists,


You think "believers" can relate to being an atheist because of the first few months of their life? You think they remember what it was like to not know about God? I don't. I don't remember "being an atheist" in my first year. Do you?



atheists cannot always relate to the view and perspective of "believers",


No, not always, but MOST atheists were once believers. So most atheists can in fact relate to the view of being a believer.

You're assuming that a person who is an atheist as an adult was born as an atheist (as we all are) and REMAINS an atheist all their life -- when the opposite is usually true.



they have no basis for reference throughout all their experiences, since they have had no experiences observing anything as a "believer", however "believers" do have experience of observing as an atheist.


This just isn't true. Saying that atheists have no knowledge of the believer perspective OR vice versa is pure speculation based no knowledge whatsoever.

It's just not true.

We are all born atheists (not knowing about God), but most of us are taught immediately to believe in God and become believers. It's only after a person is raised and begins to think critically that many of them decide that they don't believe in Santa Claus or God after all. Atheism didn't follow them all their lives as your supposition would imply.



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 04:51 PM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic

You think "believers" can relate to being an atheist because of the first few months of their life?


No, this is not what i think.



You think they remember what it was like to not know about God?


This is not the arguement i am making Benevolent Heretic. Perhaps you misinterpretted what i was meaning.

I don't think being familiar or introduced to the concept of God is the same as making everyday observances of an environment KNOWING that there is a "God".

The thought i am trying to convey is there is a different mindset from someone who's opinion/personality is formed from the information and experiences they gather from viewing the world as God does not exist, verses i believe there is a "God", verses I KNOW GOD is the cause of the effects i see.

In other words from birth until one KNOWS (more than just believes blindly) that God exists, the only perspective they have ever had is an atheistic perspective, which is the only information permitted to pass to the conscious mind from the subconscious, since it is the only information which is compliant with what the conscious mind is capable of accepting.

I am suggesting that you entertain the possibility that the subconscious mind can only be permitted to present certain information to your conscious mind which is compatible with the way one chooses to program their conscious mind (through the formation of their opinion). So if a person's subconscious mind recieves all sensory input first, not all sensory input gets delivered to the conscious mind because information that is noncompliant with the conscious can't be accepted by the conscious mind. Perhaps (speculation to a degree) there is a defense mechanism within the subconscious mind which will not permit information to pass to the conscious mind because it could cause shock to the conscious mind, due to the fact that the subconscious mind has collected through the senses TRUTHFULL observances which the conscious mind can not accept due to incompatibility of concepts.





I don't. I don't remember "being an atheist" in my first year. Do you?


Yes.

I hope this makes sense. My point is simple:

People who are born do not make even one observance, nor do they have one experience from a perspective that "God" is, until they KNOW "god" is. Whether or not they believe? Believing and knowing are two different concepts.

It is now, and ever shall be my stance:

I fail to comprehend how someone can go from KNOWING "God" is to being an atheist, and not believing in "God". If they had more than "believed" in god they would "Know" god exists, and would have witnessed the miracles other people claim to see daily, if not more often.

How can other people percieve miracles, while others say they have never seen one?

Hope this helps you to understand my perspective on this particular issue.

thanks,
john

[edit on 3-1-2007 by Esoteric Teacher]



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 05:29 PM
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So people who don't 'know' god are atheists. And people who I know who say that they believe in a god are also atheists. Well that should increase the numbers worldwide.

ABE: What about all the people in different faiths who say they 'know' god. Some deny Jesus as divine etc. Which of these people really 'know' god. Or are there numerous gods that are known?

If they all know god, why do we have all these different belief systems? Does Pat Robinson know the same god as you? What about Darlene Bishop, I heard she is big on the 'miracle' business?

[edit on 3-1-2007 by melatonin]



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 07:31 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin
So people who don't 'know' god are atheists.


Can you quote where it is i said this?

What i am saying, as is science, is that experiences are consciously percieved differently, in accordance with what truths a person's opinion accepts as true.

I am saying that a person who "believes" there is no god, can not consciously experience causes and effects of god. Why? Because they have already decided there is no god, hence no causes and effects of god can be experienced consciously, without adverse effects to a person's conscious psychi.

I am saying that a person who "believes" in god, but is still searching for answers, evidently has not found the answers with a supposed all knowing god that they believe in, because they have not chosen to do more than believe in god.

I am saying that a person who KNOWS GOD EXISTS has had experiences that the above 2 examples (1= no god, 2= believes), can not have, as such information that is detremental to the conscious mind can not be permitted to be sent, lest they go crazy.

May i suggest changing your instinct of being SELF BEFORE YOU SERVE, aka SELF PRE-SERVE at the cellular level in order to experience what it is i am trying to convey.

But, if you feel something other than truth serves you best, then deny yourself from experiencing it.

because fear does nothing but fear the truth, and serving something other than truth is what our instinct demands. Since we only accumilate new information if it connects to old information which is compatible, then all information collected thus far from someone who is self pre-serve is all compliant with that command, but the truth is not.

The truth is not compliant with the instinct of Selfishness Before Service

If you dissagree, then you must have the truth. If you have the truth, then why ask questions?

Do i have the truth?

Depends upon what truth you are looking for. But, can you look for truth that is not compliant with your dna?



posted on Jan, 3 2007 @ 08:27 PM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher

Originally posted by melatonin
So people who don't 'know' god are atheists.


Can you quote where it is i said this?



Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
In other words from birth until one KNOWS (more than just believes blindly) that God exists, the only perspective they have ever had is an atheistic perspective, which is the only information permitted to pass to the conscious mind from the subconscious, since it is the only information which is compliant with what the conscious mind is capable of accepting.


If they have only had an atheists perspective, then I guess they were never a theist.







 
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