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Atheist Chat

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posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 09:20 AM
MM, I have no interest in participating in a 'slugfest' of belief vs. unbelief. I'd find such a thing generally pointless, and besides, my discussion has no place there. It might not really have any place here, either, but atheists seem to very often assert that they have morals, and I was just wondering why they need to do so. What's up with morals? Why should we care whether we have them or not?

Hey Astyanax!

Originally posted by Astyanax
What you imagine to be yourself -- i.e. that part of you which is brought to consciousness -- is a vanishingly tiny part of what you are.

And it has very little to do with your actions, as this essay by an information theorist explains in very clear and simple terms, following Dennett and others.

The Cartesian Theatre simply does not exist. At the neural level, free will is an illusion.

I'm not quite sure what my statement has to do with the cartesian theatre and all that. I'm not claiming self-consciousness because I'm aware of my surroundings, or aware of the self that is not myself, I'm claiming self-consciousness because I'm aware of myself. I'm not saying that I am confident in the existence of myself because of just a set of 'hardware' and 'software' in my head, I'm claiming it because of the run-through that this hardware and software allows, because even if 99% of that is 'unconscious', there is still that 1%.

Originally posted by Astyanax
As for your adventures in evolutionary biology...

Research on the taming of foxes (that was started in the USSR) show that selective breeding with the most human friendly foxes could almost change them to be even physically more dog-like within the space of a relatively small number of generations?

I read about this. What on earth does it have to do with sociobiology, or indeed anything else we were talking about?

I admit, it has little to do with the topic, but I brought it up as an example of how (admittedly in an artificial environment), social behaviour resulted in some 'lines' continuing, and some being stopped. I wouldn't have thought it to be so different in the case of a pack with 1 member having a nasty streak, causing it to attack it's packmates. The pack is weaker because of this, in relation to other packs, and thus this nasty streak would die out. Why is this out of fashion?

Originally posted by Astyanax
There is plenty of evidence from ethology, evolutionary biology and game theory to show that cheats don't prosper all, or even most of the time. This syllabus handout from the Psychology Department of the University of Leicester in England will direct you to the most relevant sources, many of which you will find mentioned in Sections 4.4 and 4.5.

You may also find this article helpful.

Thanks for the links, especially the applications of game theory one, it was very interesting. The thing with altruism, however, is that tit-for-tat and such would not be applicable:
There is this community of altruistic people (they give, with NO expectation of anything in return). They're all very kind, always giving gifts, sharing, being helpful, etc. It works out okay, because as much as 1 person gives, they'd also recieve a lot, from others. However, a meanie gets into this community. He doesn't give at all, he only takes. The altruistic people don't mind this at all, because they're altruistic. They give him anyway. He doesn't do anything in return, however, so he's at an advantage. Hence, cheaters have an edge over the non-cheaters.

[edit on 18-7-2007 by babloyi]

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 09:21 AM
Wonderful discussion! I love it when we can talk like this without getting pissy like I see so much on this board.

Originally posted by Astyanax
Well, this is 'Atheist Chat', remember? Shibboleths like 'God is no respecter of persons' and 'we are all equal in His sight' won't fly here. If we're going to find an absolute valuation according to which all men and women are judged as equal, we'll have to look for it on Earth, not in Heaven.

Now I understand what you meant and I totally see your point. (I agree, yours is an excellent post, by the way.)

Where on Earth shall we find it?

We don't. If you've read my posts (which you apparently have) you know that I don't consider myself an atheist. While I don't believe in God or a supreme, judgmental being, I DO believe in the non-physical. I actually believe that the existence we have here in this physical plane is the least of our being. In other words, who I really am is the "invisible" being inside this vehicle. And I make my judgment of equality from that perspective, with our physical component being just one manifestation of "who we are"

Whether you agree or not, I hope you can understand my point of view that we are all equal.

I agree, from a physical perspective, we are not equal. But the physical is only a small part of who we are (in my opinion) so that's why I was confused about your stance.

Thank you again for explaining. I read your stuff, too and it was important to me to understand, whether I agreed or not.

As regards animal morals, feelings, guilt, remorse... I don't know. I can't claim to know that any more than I can claim to know that there's a God (or isn't). I guess you could say that I take a pretty agnostic position toward it.

I do know that German Shepherds are WAY more loyal to their owners than other dogs. I have 4 dogs and I don't care who has the food bowl, my GSDs will come to me and eat anyone who tries to hurt me, whether they have food or not.

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 01:03 PM

Originally posted by MajorMalfunction
so do we. Infanticide. Child abductions. Serial killers. Even humans get pack mentality.

Yes animals and humans have shown acts of immorality. But humans have also done acts of morality, showing that they know what morals are. Now show me a single non-human animal that has done a moral act.

Originally posted by MajorMalfunction
Religion is NOT the source of morality. It just says it is, so that people will believe in it.

Religion set the standards for morality. If you look at the morals of America compared to the morals of Japan or India, they are very very different. And the differences are clearly outlined and mirrored by their religion.

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 03:20 PM

Originally posted by TheB1ueSoldier

Originally posted by MajorMalfunction
so do we. Infanticide. Child abductions. Serial killers. Even humans get pack mentality.

Yes animals and humans have shown acts of immorality. But humans have also done acts of morality, showing that they know what morals are. Now show me a single non-human animal that has done a moral act.

* Dogs often adopt orphaned cats, squirrels, ducks and even tigers.[1]

* Dolphins support sick or injured animals, swimming under them for hours at a time and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe.

* Wolves and wild dogs bring meat back to members of the pack not present at the kill.
* Male baboons threaten predators and cover the rear as the troop retreats.

* Gibbons and chimpanzees with food will, in response to a gesture, share their food with others of the group.

* Bonobos have been observed aiding other injured or handicapped bonobos.[2]

* According to the research of Gerald Wilkinson, vampire bats have a "buddy system" in which a bat who has had a successful night of feeding will regurgitate blood for its less fortunate companion.[3]

* In numerous bird species, a breeding pair receives help in raising its young from other "helper" birds, who protect the nest from predators and help to feed the fledglings.

* Most mammal carnivores like wolves or dogs have a habit of not harming pack members below certain age, of opposite sex or in surrendering position (in case of some animals, the behavior exists within entire species rather than one pack).

* Vervet Monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys of the presence of predators, even though in doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked.

* Walruses have been seen adopting orphans who lost their parents to predators.

[edit on 7/18/2007 by Alien42]

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 03:31 PM
Thank you, Alien 42. This is what I mean. How can you tell that human morality is better than animal morality? We are animals. We are no different than the other animals except that our brains, thumbs, and bipedalism have given us an advantage over all the others.

We are not "in dominion" over the animals, we are not better than they are, nor are we different. Our biology is the same as other mammalian biology. Even avians show some sort of moral treatment of other avians.

Our "morality" is a function of our biological emotions.

As I have said, god has nothing to do with it.

I believe I have figured out what bothers me most about Christianity: ego. Churches teach that man is best, and that Christians are the best of men. In general (there are exceptions) Christians believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong and that's all there is to it, scientific evidence be damned.

Christian egocentricism. I think the world could use far less of it.

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 04:13 PM
Wow, where to begin........ahhh

Hi, My name is King, and I'm an atheist........

There is so much here, I'm not sure where to start, so I'll just go from the beginning....

I grew up around religion, but not really believing in it. I went to sunday school, I went to a youth group, but the more I heard people praying, the more it seemed.............Odd. Not necessarily wrong, just out of place. I'll explain why.

I do believe that brainwashing is used in the case of religion, both intentional, and unintentional. I still to this day say, "Oh my god" or "Jesus" if something is really irritating me. It has no religious connotation whatsoever, but it comes out of my mouth anyway. My mother believes in god, but has never pushed it upon us, has never restricted nor encouraged our "faith" in any one area of religion. I honestly believe this is a direct lead-in to why I am able to step back and look at religion in a subjective manner. All our lives, we are taught through subconcious "sayings" that religion or god is all knowing, all important, and you'll get your butt handed to you if you don't do what he says. I find a hard time believing that.

Example: How many of you, reguardless of age, who was surrounded by pop culture in the 80's say the word 'dude' on a semi-regular or occasional basis?

"God" has become pop culture. He/She is engrained so tightly in everything we do, It will most likely never go away. Now this is not a bad thing necessarily. While seperation of church and state should be absolute, such as removing "In god we trust" from the dollar bill, I can think of a few good examples of things I haven't seen mentioned here.

1. I believe it was last year, possibly the year before, Walmart and a few other stores began running their "Happy holidays" slogans instead of "Merry Christmas" Now, it's funny, but the only people that complained about this were hardcore members of the church??!! The simple fact of it is that major buisnesses want to appeal to all persons, male or female, reguardless of religion. Why should they unfairly celebrate Christianity and Christmas and not celebrate Quanza? Haunaka (spelling?), Or any other foreign religion? Apparently this doesn't work, as these "Bible thumpers" as I will refer to them, or "The Hardcore" wish to impose their beliefs on others, reguardless of the cost, under the disguise of "tradition"

2. The movie "Contact" with Jodie Foster. No, I don't think anyone should shoot someone to impress her, but rather when the idea of a world changing event that rocked human history, the hardcore deemed it necessary to send one of their own theists rather than a third party or atheist to greet whoever/whatever was on the other side. Now I know this is just a movie, however, It's roots still ring true. Christianity is so bias and powerful, that anything that tries to stand to oppose it gets crushed under millions of blind "believers". Now before you go throwing your bibles at me cursing my name, I know that all christains are not like that. My mother is a good example. In the movie she said, "If we were alone in this universe, wouldn't that be an awful waste of space?"

Which leads me to my next part of discussion, and one that gets two distinctly different reactions, curiosity, or anger....

3. Jesus and the bible are equal to that of Hitler and the Third Reich.

**Pausing for angry moment**

Now, those of you still interested as to why I say this, here is my #1 argument when dealing with one of those pushy theists....
In my inerpretation, the bible was real, Jesus too may have also been a real man. I believe that the bible was created for good intent, the worlds first example of "The Golden Rule".
But over time, the teachings began to be modified, to change to supernatural manifestations, to become something entirely different indeed today from what once was. Consider the bible the worlds longest running of "The Telephone game" For those of you who are not familiar with this game, it is common in gradeschool, to where something is said in a whisper to someone at one end of a line of people, and it is repeated from person to person, until at the end the person at the end of the line speaks something that has nothing to do with what was originally stated. This is my comparison for Christianity, Jesus, and Hitler. It has nothing to do with good vs. evil, merely with a single man, an idea, and enough people over a period of time to follow that idea until the core value of what was intended was lost, and the ideals take a life of their own. The bible however is not all fire and brimstone. Even though I do not believe in it, or read it, I do not doubt the fact that it is a positive guide for people to still treat others with the same respect, kindness, and good will that they wish upon themselves. To which I believe it was created. Not for some "I was always there, showed up from nothing, created the world cause I was bored, now I just sit here and do nothing again" being.

I thought the davinci code movie was a brilliant albeit fictional representation on christianity. Boy did that make the church mad, didn't they want it banned from theatres? I wonder why?

4. The Christian church is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, yet, they remain tax exempt. I think the church was created as a means of control over the people in an age where people were standing up for what themselves, and preaching free thought/expression. Back in the dark ages, you would be executed for dis-obeying the church. Overall, the idea of christianity itself has two facets:

A. Preaching goodwill to others
B. Obedience for fear of eternal torture

I remember reading somewhere that when the bible was translated for the first time, it didn't have the whole "fire and brimstone" it has now. The fact that the devil was in fact created upon a later translation and added due to one "fathers'" representation of the text??

It is this direct interpretation that is causing so much conflict. I for one stand outside the box, not preaching to others upon where I stand, only asking questions they can't answer, nor can I answer. Just as we all do. I just don't choose to force you not to believe in your god, so why o why must you force me to believe in yours? This is a deep seated problem with me. As I mentioned before, I have spent many a day and night searching for things out of my grasp of conciousness. Out of my capability to interpret in such a way that will not drive me mad.


posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 04:27 PM
Welcome to the thread, King. Thanks for joining us and giving your perspective.

You can probably tell from my posts hereabouts that I'm frustrated and confused by religion as well.

I have to take my kids to their dad for a visit in a few minutes, or I'd chat longer, but I hope you will stick around and continue to contribute.

posted on Jul, 18 2007 @ 04:31 PM
Continued from previous post....(sorry)

I had a sunday school teacher once. The only one I ever had, who by absolute defintion turned me away from the church. Away from their god, away from any hint of servitude and towards free thought. As I stated before, I have always been one to freely think outside the box due to lack of religious backing. As a child, this is detriment. This is where it begins, MM is absolutely right. My girlfriend is christian, I am not, she respects me as much as I respect her. My SS teacher did not. Everything out of her mouth that wasn't in the bible was "That's bad, I think you should burn it"

I couldn't believe my ears the first time I heard that. I thought I was crazy, she of course was talking about a Meat loaf album I had gotten from my cousin who had recently committed suicide at the time. As we all know, Bat out of hell is a well, questionable cover for a CD, however, as we also know, Meat Loaf is the antichrist, so maybe she was right.

I apologize for my extended ramblings, but this is such a deep seated topic with me that has had no where to express it, I am very grateful for this thread as a means to express it, and apologize to those of you who don't want to read a book right now...

As far as my philosophical side goes, I tend to lean more towards the Buhdist teachings. I think that re-incarnation is possible, as I have had experiences with some things in my life that have brought up feelings I can't begin to describe how "at home" I felt. Maybe I'll elaborate on that later.

I'm not trying to stray too far, so I'll try to jump back into my points again.

I have had premonitions, as some have stated in earlier posts. Mine were very specific, very detailed, and lasted for a couple months prior to the event. It was a minor event, rather comical...I got run over by a snowmobile.

**laugh break**

Ok, I was a little dizzy, a little shaken up, but my dreams had come true exactly as it was for months. Doesn't the bible specifically forbid this type of "premonition" or looking into the future? I am not versed on the bible, so someone will have to correct me on this. It was not by choice, so how does this work into that "perfect plan" stated before? I like the point raised about how god has a perfect plan, yet has us all f-ed up. How can such a loving being sit by and watch people needlessly suffer? Free will you say? sure, people have concequences based on their own decisions, but if god is so perfect, wouldn't he have thought of that too? How come people such as myself who choose to question god and christianity are so hated, we are so reviled in church communities that we are (as posted before) dismissed and forced to convert to be saved?

I for one have a hard time believing that your life, no matter how small a mistake is doomed to hell, or all is forgiven with just a hail mary , some crackers and grape juice.

It's for all these questions that I'm glad I have the ability to ask them. If not for the fact that I may not find the answers, maybe I will, We'll find out soon enough, but the idea that I am able to question.

Isn't that the greatest freedom an atheist has? The ability to question why? Faith is a great thing to have, but to blindly believe in something because you have been taught it from an early age? If I taught you how to hot wire cars because I know electrical systems, would that make you faithful that you could steal any car and by a hail mary, some crackers and grape juice, all would be forgiven? IMO, Hell is earth. Your time, your free will is what you make it. Heaven is what you make it.

I will have to go back and re-read some of the posts on the latter pages to respond to some of the posts I missed. I am sorry If I got off topic.

Post Flagged + Favorite
Two thumbs UP!!!

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 08:26 AM
Have you suffered for your beliefs?

I'm curious. Have any of you ever suffered pain or distress on account of your atheism?

I'm not sure if the question can apply to an agnostic, but maybe some of your replies will clarify that issue.

Speaking for myself, I must say I've never had any trouble. I was still fairly religious as a young teenager and by the time I'd done with it, around the age of twenty, I was at university and atheism didn't carry any social stigma -- rather the opposite, in fact.

While living in the Middle East I had to conceal my (lack of) beliefs from time to time, especially from the authorities (automatically writing 'Christian' when filling official forms and the like). I also kept quiet about them to my colleagues at work, since I wasn't keen on being regarded as a monster (if you think Christians don't like atheists, you should talk to the average Muslim). And I never spoke about evolution, which is widely regarded as heresy. But these were, at mopst, minor inconveniences. I've never had to suffer for my godlessness, at least not yet.

I'm hoping it will stay that way.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 08:42 AM
On Earth, as it is Heaven

Originally posted by Kingalbrect79
Hell is earth.

Here's a thread authored by someone else who thinks this. Except he thinks Jesus came and told him so. As you'll see if you go there, I hounded him mercilessly -- and with good reason.

If Earth is Hell, it's also Heaven.

Heaven is what you make it.

Actually, Earth is what you make of it. Life is what you make of it.

As far as my philosophical side goes, I tend to lean more towards the Buhdist teachings.

Bet you've never lived among real Buddhists then. You'd soon see the dark side of Buddhism if you had.

I think that re-incarnation is possible

Based on some feelings you've had? Come on, if you're really going to live life as an atheist you're going to have to be tougher-minded than that. Where's the evidence for reincarnation? In my country the newspapers frequently carry stories about this or that child claiming to remember incidents from its previous life, but despite any number of efforts at substantiating these tales, not one of them ever has been. As an atheist would expect.

Fear of death is ultimately what drives people to religious belief, whether in a God or gods or reincarnation or karma. My advice to such people is always the same: get over it.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 09:20 AM

Originally posted by Astyanax
Have you suffered for your beliefs?

I'm curious. Have any of you ever suffered pain or distress on account of your atheism?

No cant say that i have, mind you growing up it was never much of a topic in the circle's i moved in.
I did keep my beliefs to myself whenever i saw my Grandmother, mostly to save her feelings than for anyother reason.
My kids currently attend a catholic school, a tough choice due to my beliefs but it is the opportunity for my children to receive a better education than i did that swayed me.
I dont preach my atheism to my kids even though it grates on me from time to time when they discuss the religious teachings they get at school. They are all still young so i will discuss my views with them in an open and honest fashion when they are a little older and then leave them to make up their own minds.
I have noticed that even at the age their at they have begun to question some of the tales they are being taught without my intervention which is pleasing.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 09:21 AM
Of course earth is heaven, as it is hell. You are saying the same thing I am, Just in different words.

Basically, this life is what you choose it to be, if you choose to be miserable and homeless, then that's all you'll ever be. If you want to be successful and do good things, then you will. The earth is a gift, just yesterday I went to the lake with my girlfriend and my family. As I sat by the bank watching the water slap the shore, life exploded around me, colorful dragonflies landing just inches from me on the plants, water skippers scurrying about, all just doing what they want to do, with no fear (that I know of) of what is to come.

I might be an atheist, but that doesn't make me an absolute close minded individual though. For me, there is no open and shut case. I just CHOOSE not to believe until I am given good data to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, that will probably come with my death. I don't look to tommorow as a burden, well sometimes, but mostly I think about what I look forward to doing, rather than what I can't do.

What dark side of Buddhism do you speak of?? (Thanks for the proper spelling by the way

Re-incarnation for me come from a feeling yes, sure I can't give you specific examples, but for me to know, that is what is important. I don't have to prove it to you. My entire life has been drawn towards a specific period in time. I visited a place and a feeling hit me of "home". This place was so moving to me that It actually hurt me to leave at the end of the day, and I was in a state of depression for 2 days afterwards. I can't explain this. But for me this is one more step towards my affirmation that we have spirits, and continue to learn from life to life until we are ready to ascend to a higher conciousness. This has nothing to do with one god creating everything and "just exsisting"

IMO--God was created by man so we wouldn't feel so lonely on this earth.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 09:30 AM
Have I ever suffered for my beliefs?

Not that I'm aware of. Mainly I've just gotten annoyed. Annoyed by friends that tell me I should just try to pray, what will it hurt? Annoyed by my ex (a lapsed, non-practicing Catholic) for exposing my older child to the god concept when he knows full well I didn't want the children exposed to this nonsense until they were old enough to make up their own minds. Having to sit quietly while people pray over food at a community meal.

The future, however, is still a mystery. And there are definitely people in this country that think that we ought to be put to death -- or at the very least probably want to see us put in internment camps. They may be a minority, but as this war in Iraq continues, the polarization of these types in this country may just become overwhelming. I dread a scenario like The Handmaid's Tale.

But I don't "prophecy" this stuff. I just worry about it from time to time.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 09:41 AM
One thing that I see that atheists are good about is the fact we don't have to prove anything to you. If you believe, then we don't care.

It's ALMOST every religion that has some kind of text, history or indoctrine that says if you don't believe in their religion that you are either evil, wrong, going to burn, or should burn (Literally), and encourage it.

Why should we have to suffer because we have a difference of opinion.

That's like saying if I don't like pickles on my cheeseburger and you do, that I should be put to death because I defy your god's decree.

(I do like pickles by the way)

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 10:00 AM

Originally posted by Kingalbrect79

(I do like pickles by the way)

HERETIC! Pickles are clearly the work of the devil. Brine can only be evil. EEEEEEEvil!

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 10:04 AM

Originally posted by MajorMalfunction

Originally posted by Kingalbrect79

(I do like pickles by the way)

HERETIC! Pickles are clearly the work of the devil. Brine can only be evil. EEEEEEEvil!

Damn i also like pickles.

What then is a good Atheist food, not brocholli MM?

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 10:09 AM

Originally posted by Kingalbrect79
I might be an atheist, but that doesn't make me an absolute close minded individual though. For me, there is no open and shut case. I just CHOOSE not to believe until I am given good data to prove otherwise.

Yes, I think we are basically in agreement. But I'm 49 years old, so I've heard (and rejected) most arguments for religion in my time. Evidence, well, that's another story. If I ever see some real, direct evidence, I'll change my tune.

What dark side of Buddhism do you speak of?

See my first post on Atheist Chat and also my argument with HowlrunnerIV on this thread.

My entire life has been drawn towards a specific period in time. I visited a place and a feeling hit me of "home". This place was so moving to me that it actually hurt me to leave at the end of the day...

I used to have a recurrent dream of a place somewhere in Latin America (which I have never visited): an adobe-walled barn with an iron bell in a cupola. The inside looked like a carpenters workshop. The building was part of what looked like a big estate. Something evil lurked inside the building; it was to be the place of my death.

People have funny dreams, feelings and stuff like that. It doesn't have to mean anything more than a few neurons wired up wrong and misfiring away.

I don't believe in spirits, apart from those you find in a bottle.

Speaking of which, it's time I went out and had a drink.

Bye now.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 11:12 AM

What then is a good Atheist food, not brocholli MM?

If you like Broccoli on your cheesburger, then you need help.

Burn Heretic!

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 11:17 AM
What is good atheist food? Whatever an atheist wants to eat, sans saying grace.

For me, it's rich, delicious chocolate. MMMMMmmmmmmm.

posted on Jul, 20 2007 @ 11:28 AM
Astyanax, I read your post before, I must have forgotten your comments on Buddhism, or taken them in a different context. However, Is it so wrong that Buddhist teach positive thinking rather than negative?

How is it refusal to accept negative elements when you try to redirect them into positive ones?

Even death to them is sacred. Buddhist use "sky burials" as a way of giving one last gift to the earth in form of their bodies. This to me speaks of complete harmony with the earth, all it's creatures, including humans, and a willingness to better oneself and everyone around them.

Where these "terrorists" have exactly the opposite swing, where they have to kill anyone who opposes their belief rather than accept that all people are different. I'm not grouping Muslims by the way, I'm just using the extremists as an example.

When is the last time you saw a monk put the smack down because you ate a broccoli burger?

(didn't mean to derail the thread, but it's still funny

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