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Ask An Atheist Anything

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posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 12:58 PM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer
Frankly, my lack of belief in an afterlife inspires a similar desire for good morality. If there's no gods and nothing beyond death the most important thing has to be this life. Why not make the most of it and do the best for yourself and for others?


Okay, while we wait for the "atheist evangelists" to chime in on my previous question, I'd like to ask another, rooted in your response here.

You say that lack of faith inspires a desire to do good here on Earth. While I commend you for that attitude, I would like to ask where you believe that desire comes from? What motivates it? When you say that you want to do the best for yourself, I understand that, but why would you want to do the best for others?

My observation has long been that man is generally lazy and greedy. Probably comes from evolution -- you ate as much as you could when you could, because you never knew when the next gazelle was coming along, and you rested whenever you could, because you needed what little energy your infrequent gazelle meals provided to either catch the next one, or run away from the cheetah that was after you.

Modern man continues to behave in this fashion. Though there are plenty of reasons for it, pure communism failed in the early Soviet Union because "to each according to his needs, from each according to his means" fails, except at the point of a gun, for this very reason.

So this altruism that you're referencing comes from someplace else, and I'm wondering where that might be. Make you feel good to give $50 to the Humane Society? Is there nothing else that you can spend your $50 on that benefits you directly, and results in a better "good"?

In "Animal House", the Dean famously tells Flounder "fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son," but I would counter that, if we're nothing more than meat that ends when we die, maybe that's exactly how you should go through life. Live for yourself, because you are all that there is. Spend your $50 on a nice steak or good bottle of scotch and enjoy, because tomorrow you might be in oblivion, and the pleasures of steak or scotch will be gone.

Again, I don't question your beliefs, and I certainly don't want to say, or even imply, that I think that atheists are inherently bad or selfish people. I see many instances that are contrary to that, and I just really wonder where the desire to good (even where the concept of "good") comes from, when there is nothing to teach it, and human nature seems to encourage the opposite.

From my perspective, my faith tells me what is "good" (as opposed to society, which seems to say that to be consumptive is to be good) and why I should want to be good to those who I don't know, who do bad things to me, or who can't possibly return the favour. Is that some sort of manipulated order? Am I inherently self serving without theistic prodding? Obviously, but that's what it's all about, eh? Overcoming our selfish desires and caring about everyone around us. Me, I go the God route. You? Somewhere along the line, you were indoctrinated in the desire to do good for others, and it stuck, even after your interest in anything other than the material waned.

Because you didn't respond to the person who asked which C.S. Lewis texts you had read, I don't know if Mere Christianity made the list, but this argument is in there, though it's couched in the wartime message of "Who is right, Germany or England?" with the recognition that few in Germany saw their own efforts as being evil, so by what right did England have to claim that it was on the good side of this fight? Indeed, by what right did they even have to define good?

I know, I know. History is written by the victorious.

I don't question that one can be an unselfish atheist. I just wonder why one would be?




posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen
You say that lack of faith inspires a desire to do good here on Earth. While I commend you for that attitude, I would like to ask where you believe that desire comes from? What motivates it? When you say that you want to do the best for yourself, I understand that, but why would you want to do the best for others?


Rather you might ask why would I NOT be? Morals are derived by social contract, not from belief in nor fear of deities. There is both personal and group benefit from the result of moral behavior and as a humanist I wish only the best for my species.

Remember this (because it's a common logical leap for critics of atheism): atheism is not the same as nihilism, nor does atheism beget nihilism.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:05 PM
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Originally posted by adjensen
In "Animal House", the Dean famously tells Flounder "fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son," but I would counter that, if we're nothing more than meat that ends when we die, maybe that's exactly how you should go through life. Live for yourself, because you are all that there is. Spend your $50 on a nice steak or good bottle of scotch and enjoy, because tomorrow you might be in oblivion, and the pleasures of steak or scotch will be gone.


I can't help but see that as immature and hedonistic. In actuality, I'm good because the thought never crosses my mind to do bad things. There's no reason when one can perfectly easily make it in the world by playing by the rules.

If I were desperately impoverished and tragically uneducated, perhaps it would be a different story, but being someone with a good head on his shoulders and the sociability to make my way in elite circles, I don't see the need to harm others. Being productive, healthy, and kind is a matter of pride. I fail to understand those who argue they would act otherwise were it not for religion.

You couldn't possibly understand what it's like to live without faith, but I have faith (har har) that you would also live a moral life if you decided to become a secular person. People inherently have morality and attribute it to faith, not the other way around.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:09 PM
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Originally posted by jokei
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


This is a typical atheist response and I hazard to point out an incorrect one as well. Firstly black is not a colour, it's a tone, the absence of colour. This is no doubt in line with your absence of god (light) and a fixation on general negativity and all things morbid.

It is however, somewhat slimming.




Not exactly...whats in a tube of black paint? Black is the inclusion of color...cyan, magenta & yellow makes black paint. Black isn't the absent of color...it's many colors.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:16 PM
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Originally posted by Archirvion
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I couldnt have cared less what the Atheist believe or do not believe in. The general Atheist is narrowminded and closes off some of some of the parts of his brain.

They are a futuristic version of our ancestors cavemen, less-intelligent.



This actually plays into the fact that humans believe what they want to believe NOT based on proof, but on their comfort zone. There are many things science has proven but people still don't believe because of their comfort levels. Many people believe the earth is only 6000-7000 years old because that's what the Bible implies, despite fossil records. The same goes for Atheists. If science can give proof at some point, of an intelligent energy...the source of All...many atheists will still not believe because it doesn't fall into their comfort zone. Many people fear the unknown or concepts that are not familiar and will deny things, even though, there is proof. Quite sad how many people operate their lives.

[edit on 15-7-2010 by ptmckiou]



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:19 PM
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Originally posted by pondrthis
People inherently have morality and attribute it to faith, not the other way around.


Well, that's the crux of Lewis' argument -- why would people inherently have morality? What's its source, and how did we come to have the morality that we do? It wasn't to early society's benefit to nurture children born with defects, why didn't we develop a morality that says it's okay to kill infants, as many animals do?

I think that one could make a case for saying that society can mould our morals and encourage behaviour that benefits society, but it can't be the source of morals that run counter to it.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:29 PM
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Originally posted by ptmckiou
many atheists will still not believe because it doesn't fall into their comfort zone. Many people fear the unknown or concepts that are not familiar and will deny things, even though, there is proof. Quite sad how many people operate their lives.


Perhaps some atheists would remain in denial but I wouldn't say "many". The atheists I encounter operate from a position of scientific literacy and should such a thing be discovered and verified it would no longer be an article of belief.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:36 PM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by pondrthis
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


The problem is people are seeing a living being as an energy CONTAINER rather than an energy CIRCUIT. We aren't a tub, we're more like a capacitor.

We're constantly taking in (mostly chemical) and releasing (mostly heat/kinetic) energy. Shortly after we die, we stop taking in energy and continue to release energy as heat until there's nothing left. JUST like a capacitor.


100% agreed. The mistaken belief in "souls" combined with rudimentary scientific literacy is responsible for too many misbeliefs and pseudoscientific bunkum.


AAAAAhhh, give quantum physicists another 10 years and I'll bet you'll be eating your words. We have only but begun to explore the quantum world and how all matter works within it.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:41 PM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


Another question here, you answered my last one pretty well.

- what are your views on the self?

science and philosophers still consider consciousness a hard problem. Do you believe the neuron networks in the brain are aspects causality? Or do you believe we are first causes?

If you believe the latter, wouldn't this conflict with most scientific views of the natural universe?



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:46 PM
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Originally posted by ptmckiou

Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by pondrthis
reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


The problem is people are seeing a living being as an energy CONTAINER rather than an energy CIRCUIT. We aren't a tub, we're more like a capacitor.

We're constantly taking in (mostly chemical) and releasing (mostly heat/kinetic) energy. Shortly after we die, we stop taking in energy and continue to release energy as heat until there's nothing left. JUST like a capacitor.


100% agreed. The mistaken belief in "souls" combined with rudimentary scientific literacy is responsible for too many misbeliefs and pseudoscientific bunkum.


AAAAAhhh, give quantum physicists another 10 years and I'll bet you'll be eating your words. We have only but begun to explore the quantum world and how all matter works within it.

You keep saying quantum physics when I bet your only source would be what the bleep do we know, which was made by a new age religion to support their ideas.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by ptmckiou
AAAAAhhh, give quantum physicists another 10 years and I'll bet you'll be eating your words. We have only but begun to explore the quantum world and how all matter works within it.


The scientific world does change and perhaps one day we will find some such thing. If there is such a discovery it will almost certainly not come from the pseudoscientific charlatans currently validating the existence of souls through the exploitation of the mysteries of quantum mechanics.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:48 PM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 



Then again, what if there are no deities?

If there are no deities ...then then systematically all we have left is whats left over. That would leave what already is right now .......have you ever wrestled with the idea that Objectivity itself is God ...that what is right now devoid of beliefs and deities is in fact God?


Those are subjective requirements dreamed up due to the lack of objective evidence.

My friend, do you know what Objectivity itself is? In intellectual and philosophical circles for the last few thousand years and wrestled with by the greatest minds in history, i.e. socrates, plato, empodecles, parminides, kant, jung ......they all say objectivity does not exist.

They say everything is relative and if objectivity does exist then that would be God (interestingly enough, a theory by some these same giants of thought)
en.wikipedia.org...


Ask him to come to this thread.

If he came to this thread ....proof of your existence wold require relativism in that he would have to relatively know that on the other end of these words, was a computer connected through vast networks, throughout the world, with an end user. I does not go on the internet and thinks this is all books ...all relative in the end!!!


Atheism is not a hypothesis. It's only a certitude formed from the lack of evidence. It appears you have a desperate need to itemize it as a belief because your entire argument against atheism rests on that premise. Non-beliefs are not beliefs, they are the lack thereof

The only certitude you can say is "you dont know"! Lack of evidence of something does not negate that thing ...it simply could mean not all the evidence is in yet.

My entire argument against atheism is that it is based on 15 years of study of philosophy which says everything is relative and because of that that you can't take anything as objective or as certitude. These are the greatest most respected minds in the world versus what you say.

They would all say that atheism is a belief. You think that there is lack of evidence and that what remains is Godlessness... its all a function of mind/thought. You cant really say you know for sure because that would require objectivity which you dont have.

Non-beliefs or lack of beliefs leaves you with nothing ...no thought, no labels, no ideas, and no concepts whatsoever. I can agree that this format is not a belief system ......but then one can say that in the absence of all beliefs/ideas/concepts/etc ...the nothingness that is leftover ...that, that is God.

This is actually a technique to experience God/Objectivity. You get rid of all beliefs, all concepts, ideas, thoughts, labels, etc ...and eventually you are left with something ...and what you are left with is the experience of God



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:51 PM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by Romans 10:9
'Self-evident' in that these things are objectively true and undeniable, sir.

And not to bring up the tired and worn out Pascal but, you had better be right.


If you operate as a theist you are by default employing subjective interpretations as there remains no objective evidence to support the existence of a deity.

Pascal's Wager is without question one of the worst philosophical premises with which to live your life. I could devote an entire other thread to the inherent problems with his proposition. But let's just say that it's an astonishingly unpersuasive suggestion.



The recorded history of Jesus Christ (backed by evidence) is not a subjective interpretation. A moral law (backed by conviction) that runs throughout mankind and only slightly alters it's course in various cultures is not a subjective interpretation. The theory (backed by evidence) of time and the universe having a definitive beginning is not a subjective interpretation.

And Pascal's wager is no reason to believe on it's own.......but there's no denying that you are indeed rolling the dice with your own possible eternity, and where you might spend it.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 01:54 PM
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Originally posted by juveous
- what are your views on the self?

science and philosophers still consider consciousness a hard problem. Do you believe the neuron networks in the brain are aspects causality? Or do you believe we are first causes?

If you believe the latter, wouldn't this conflict with most scientific views of the natural universe?


I could not pretend to know the answer to such a question and could only give you an opinion as someone uneducated in such areas. Sorry, I'm just not well-educated enough on this subject.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 02:04 PM
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Originally posted by dominicus
The only certitude you can say is "you dont know"! Lack of evidence of something does not negate that thing ...it simply could mean not all the evidence is in yet.


Thank you. And there is the core of atheism. I shall not be concerning myself with propositions that cannot be supported by evidence. Particularly the proposition of deities since this has been the one proposition people have been searching for evidence the longest.

Your interpretations of "relative", "objective" and "belief system" are superfluous to the issue at hand. What remains pertinent is that the lack of apparent evidence supporting the existence of deities.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 02:10 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Society gives a basis for our morals, but at their most basic morals are based in biological imperatives. The main drive for all species is to procreate. Therefore, we don't get rid of defective children as they still have the ability to pass on our genetic code. We don't kill in general because if we give ourselves that right, then it must be given to everyone else and thus it puts us at risk of being killed, jeopardizing our ability to procreate. We choose to work together and help one another because group is much better at providing the necessities of life than a single individual. It all comes down to what helps us being able to pass on our legacy. The only thing that sets us apart is that we are able to question these imperatives and shape them to fit what our society deems as acceptable.



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 02:11 PM
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Hey Drummer!

Like your drumkit... i'm an aspiring drum-player myself


So I have a couple of questions:

1. Being an atheist, do you believe that death is the final end? And if so, how do you find comfort and solace realizing that as soon as your biological countdown clocks out, your existence is permanently terminated?

2. What are your opinions concerning altruism?



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 02:12 PM
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Originally posted by Romans 10:9
The recorded history of Jesus Christ (backed by evidence) is not a subjective interpretation.


I disagree. The story of Jesus is only established by testimony, and testimony of mostly a handful of people who didn't know Jesus personally (which is not reliable evidence).


A moral law (backed by conviction) that runs throughout mankind and only slightly alters it's course in various cultures is not a subjective interpretation.


Moral constants that transcend cultures is not unusual or disputed. In fact, it's quite a natural occurrence.


The theory (backed by evidence) of time and the universe having a definitive beginning is not a subjective interpretation.


No, that very much is in dispute. The current state of the universe can be traced back to what is referred to as a "big bang" but this is no way constitutes a "definitive beginning" of the universe or of time.


And Pascal's wager is no reason to believe on it's own.......but there's no denying that you are indeed rolling the dice with your own possible eternity, and where you might spend it.


Only if I buy into the modeled fear inherent in religious instruction. Employing this wager I also run a risk of wasting my time here attempting to adhere to the principles of an ancient fictitious book in the false hopes of received some posthumous reward. Such a "wager" is illogical. I prefer more logical modes of thought to base my lifestyle on.

[edit on 15-7-2010 by traditionaldrummer]



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 02:15 PM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by ptmckiou
AAAAAhhh, give quantum physicists another 10 years and I'll bet you'll be eating your words. We have only but begun to explore the quantum world and how all matter works within it.


The scientific world does change and perhaps one day we will find some such thing. If there is such a discovery it will almost certainly not come from the pseudoscientific charlatans currently validating the existence of souls through the exploitation of the mysteries of quantum mechanics.


So let me get this straight. If any quantum physicist works on experiments to tie the universal consciousness to science, or tie spirituality to science then he automatically is deemed a charlatan for working in that field of study? WOW! Talk about close minded when it comes to learning more about science and how all matter works!!!! If it doesn't fit into your idea of the world....then what is the point of researching new areas?

However, you don't seem to call physicists that study possible other dimensions charlatans. Why is that? If you need a 3D body to be alive or exists...then why would you want scientists to pursue a possible 5th dimension reality (as an example) because that would go against your belief that without a 3D body....you don't exist-your dead, thereby no one could live in a 5th dimension per your beliefs. As a consequence, I assume you think the money spent on CERN the Large Hadron Collider a waste of good research even though String Theory is based on the principal of 10 dimensions plus time. How can you justify the pursuit of other dimensions if you think you must have a 3D body to be "alive"?



posted on Jul, 15 2010 @ 02:15 PM
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Originally posted by Monts
1. Being an atheist, do you believe that death is the final end? And if so, how do you find comfort and solace realizing that as soon as your biological countdown clocks out, your existence is permanently terminated?


I suspect the most likely condition is that death is the end. I find solace in my terminated existence by understanding that after death it will be no different than it was before I was born.


2. What are your opinions concerning altruism?


Always be good to others and behave as ethically and honestly as possible. It's best for you and best for society.



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