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Ask An Atheist Anything

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posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 03:57 PM
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reply to post by Mrluc
 


I think it is very possible for there to exist more advanced beings out there, however I have been presented with insufficient evidence to believe in them. I think they would be 'gods' like very advanced technology is 'magic'. Think Stargate SG1 and the goa'uld.




posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 05:38 PM
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This is incorrect. Words do not take their definitions by colloquial, regional or other interpretations. At best you have strictly a mass misinterpretation. In this case "religion" appears to be misinterpreted. Currently in the political arena, "racism" is being misinterpreted. And here are 9 more words commonly misinterpreted.

Gee, that's so sad about all those words being misinterpreted.

Nevertheless, there is no other standard for correctness besides how the word is used and understood by native speakers of the language in question.

And yes, of course, there are colloquial relaxations, and regional variations, and even false folk etymologies that get canonized by prolonged and repeated use.

Speakers are the bane of language. Yet, where would any language be without them?

Because there simply is nothing else except usage. Well, maybe if you're French, and you work for or do business with the French government.

But you and I are corresponding in English. We don't have an Academy. There's only us.

I am sorry if that bursts your bubble, but that's the way it is. Don't shoot the messenger.

You can say that you would use some word differently. Good for you. Or that you would refrain from using the word in a certain way. Also cool. But you can't object to how other people use the words in what is their language just as much as it is yours.

Most especially, you are not entitled to insist that other people use words in ways that support your own ego defenses or rhetorical imperatives.

You have a religious belief. So do I. I am happy to cop to it.

You aren't. Too bad.


Jay


Agnostic: a 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 existance or the nonexistance of God or a god.

The "probably" should be "possibly," unless we're talking only about Huxley's personal views. The business about "any ultimate reality" (as opposed to what? Penultimate reality? Some ultimate realities and not others?) should be omitted for failure to refer.

Agnostic: a person who holds the view that the ontological status of the god. is unknown, and possibly unknowable, broadly: one who is committed neither to believing in the existence nor to believing in the nonexitence of any God or god whatsoever.

That'd be pretty close.

The other business about weak and strong atheism depends on the resolution of the ambiguous verb to reject. It is not obvious how that could be resolved while preserving a distinction among atheists, and without violating the mutual exclusivity of atheists and agnostics, which has been part of latter for as long as it has been a word.

However, that's not my problem. I am not an atheist of any kind.



[edit on 19-7-2010 by eight bits]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 06:12 PM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


First, that definition comes from webster. I trust them. Second, strong and weak atheism is very well accepted and explained. It all depends upon if the atheist actively claims that there are no deities.

en.m.wikipedia.org...

This article explains strong/weak implicit/explicit atheism. Look for the purple/blue chart or the section labeled definitions and destinctions. Droid does... not have a nice copy paste function with my browser of choice.

[edit on 19-7-2010 by C09JayLT]

[edit on 19-7-2010 by C09JayLT]



posted on Jul, 19 2010 @ 10:24 PM
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Originally posted by eight bits
You have a religious belief


Sorry, sir. You are once again incorrect. I have no religious beliefs.

By your logic, if you are not gay, you are gay.
By your logic, if you are not female, you are female.
By your logic, if you are not a reptile, you are a reptile.

It doesn't matter to me though. If you cannot accept a world in which atheism is not a religion then so be it. I'm ready to move beyond this.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 01:32 AM
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Most believers assume things about atheists, and more atheists assume things about believers. The war on religion has always been there and i believe it always will be there because in situations like that, its hard for people to set a common ground because they are so different. I see it from both sides of the spectrum and i know its hard as hell for each side to deal with the other. But that is life for you, and that is people for you. If only people were accepting to another's belief or accepting to the found evidence, we wouldn't have such crazy people bothering us.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 06:04 AM
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Jay

Personally, I was more impressed with the similarities than with the differences between the two descriptions of agnosticism we discussed.

So long as it is clear that my religion, agnosticism, is not any kind of atheism, then I have no standing to discuss sectarian differences among atheists.

Your citing WikiP, however, is definitely something to "ask your professor" about.

TD


It doesn't matter to me though

Obviously, it matters a great deal to you, otherwise you wouldn't resist so emotionally and at such length.

Why not just say that you prefer not to describe your own views about gods as "religious," but acknowledge that many other native speakers do use the word religion to describe your views?

The purpose of the thread is to increase readers' understanding of your opinions, by observing you answer questions about them. Obviously, the information conveyed in Q&A sessions is not confined to the content of the answers, but is complemented by the manner of answer.

That you tried to deny the native speaker status of those who hold different opinions from you says a lot about you, about how you think, and about how you form your opinions. That you argue that there is an objective basis for your personal subjective word choices is also revealing.

For better or worse, information about your views has been flowing nicely. Since that is your stated purpose, you should be pleased to have had the opportunity to pursue this line of inquiry.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 06:28 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits

Obviously, it matters a great deal to you, otherwise you wouldn't resist so emotionally and at such length.


Not really. Some people are open and some are stubborn. We've discovered your position on things and I'm fine with it.


Why not just say that you prefer not to describe your own views about gods as "religious," but acknowledge that many other native speakers do use the word religion to describe your views?


I do, though I try to dispel this presumption about atheism whenever possible. Sometimes it's not possible.


The purpose of the thread is to increase readers' understanding of your opinions, by observing you answer questions about them. Obviously, the information conveyed in Q&A sessions is not confined to the content of the answers, but is complemented by the manner of answer.


True.


That you tried to deny the native speaker status of those who hold different opinions from you says a lot about you, about how you think, and about how you form your opinions. That you argue that there is an objective basis for your personal subjective word choices is also revealing.


I expect different opinions and if they appear to be factually incorrect I'll address it. Note, I have not denied anybody of anything and have accepted your position on the issue as unchanging and am prepared to advance to other subjects. Perhaps it is revealing that I choose to adhere to the actual definitions of words as much as possible.


For better or worse, information about your views has been flowing nicely. Since that is your stated purpose, you should be pleased to have had the opportunity to pursue this line of inquiry.


I certainly am pleased. But I'm also ready to move beyond the question of whether atheism a religion or not. I say no. You say yes. Our individual opinions on this appear to be immovable bulwarks. I can accept that we simply disagree on this issue.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 06:31 AM
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Originally posted by LuckyMe777
If only people were accepting to another's belief or accepting to the found evidence, we wouldn't have such crazy people bothering us.


I suppose that is true but simply accepting beliefs is just as crazy as those bothering us with them. Evidence, however, is much easier to accept.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 08:06 AM
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reply to post by eight bits
 


I think there is an important difference between what the word means and what the concept it conveys means to you. You can have different thoughts on the concept, but that doesn't change the definition.

Wikipedia is a reasonable source of basic information. The hot topics are reasonably well modded. It is no academic paper or textbook, but those are a pain to track down on the intertubes and frankly not worth it when I am finding it for dudes on a forum rather than for myself.

[edit on 20-7-2010 by C09JayLT]



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 08:20 AM
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TD, Agree to disagree is fine.

Jay, whatever you say.

Onto a new matter, TD, one that has just arisen.


but simply accepting beliefs is just as crazy

Is it your view that those who disagree with you about the existence of god(s), those who accept the existence of God, for example, are mentally ill, or exhibit a symptom of mental illness?


Evidence, however, is much easier to accept.

I wasn't aware that there was any evidence in either direction, nothing with consensus about its bearing.

If you disagree, then please discuss. If you agree, though, could you suggest any principles that you feel offer some impersonally valid basis for an agnostic or another "neutral" to choose among the incompatible claims about the existence of god(s)?



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 08:37 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Is it your view that those who disagree with you about the existence of god(s), those who accept the existence of God, for example, are mentally ill, or exhibit a symptom of mental illness?


Only if they have accepted it blindly. Many people though have had subjective experiences which have convinced them, some even converting from atheism. I have addressed a few of them in this thread and told them flat out I did not believe they were crazy at all.


I wasn't aware that there was any evidence in either direction, nothing with consensus about its bearing.

If you disagree, then please discuss. If you agree, though, could you suggest any principles that you feel offer some impersonally valid basis for an agnostic or another "neutral" to choose among the incompatible claims about the existence of god(s)?


Correct: there is no evidence either way (about the existence of deities). I cannot speak for any other people including agnostics. What pushes me from agnosticism is the fact that people have been attempting to provide evidence of deities for millennia and the search for such evidence has expanded exponentially within the age of scientific discovery. Nowhere that we've looked produces any evidence of deities and as discovery and knowledge encroaches more and more on areas deities were said to inhabit, the less likely it becomes to discover any. The odds appear so great against discovering a deity that not forming a certitude on the issue seems less logical to me than assuming a neutral opinion. Sure, I am open to evidence so technically I remain agnostic in a sense but my certitude based on the evidence makes me a de facto atheist.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 08:37 AM
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reply to post by traditionaldrummer
 


I agree. Simply accepting anything is crazy. Accepting the reasoning and evidence that lead to an idea, and adpoting a stance because of that, not crazy.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 08:45 AM
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Again, I'd like to thank the OP for his civility and openness to questions!

I was writing something the other day about the abolition of religion, and whether it would make for a better world or not, and I thought again about your earlier statement of your wanting the best for humankind.

I think that is common ground for many people on both sides of the issue, but it got me to thinking about where an atheist believes, well, let's call it "enlightenment", is going to come from. If you look around, there are lots of bad things that people do, mostly out of selfish desires and questionable motives, and the stated goal of wanting the best for humankind should be the elimination, or vast reduction at least, of that.

In a world of growing population and declining resources, barring some technological breakthrough (well, a number of them,) we likely face more and more of this sort of behaviour, so there's an obvious benefit to convincing people to be more loving and considerate of others, and less selfish. Christianity attempts to do so, in both a positive and (sadly) negative manner, but I would like to know where you think that atheism can contribute?

Convincing someone to help humankind through rationalism and reason may work well for intellectualizers, but if you convince the average person that this is all there is, is that going to work for them as well? I don't think that it's possible to take a person who is acting selfishly, give them more ammunition for being selfish, and expect them to be more altruistic, not without some sort of significant revelation, anyway.

Part of this comes from my belief that we can't keep going on like this forever, so at some point, we will either have some sort of enlightenment that radically increases man's love of his fellow, or we will run the risk of descending into a dog eat dog barbarism.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:23 AM
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Originally posted by adjensen
In a world of growing population and declining resources, barring some technological breakthrough (well, a number of them,) we likely face more and more of this sort of behaviour, so there's an obvious benefit to convincing people to be more loving and considerate of others, and less selfish. Christianity attempts to do so, in both a positive and (sadly) negative manner, but I would like to know where you think that atheism can contribute?

Convincing someone to help humankind through rationalism and reason may work well for intellectualizers, but if you convince the average person that this is all there is, is that going to work for them as well? I don't think that it's possible to take a person who is acting selfishly, give them more ammunition for being selfish, and expect them to be more altruistic, not without some sort of significant revelation, anyway.


I don't particularly expect any ideology to produce massive changes for the better in the world either way. However, secular humanism has much to offer in the way of positive benefits, arguably even more so than religions.

For example, if we admit that we don't know what happens after death and that this world may be all that there is we have great incentive to improve conditions for everyone collectively. Simply by reducing or removing religious martyrdom and fanaticism we can avoid potentially deadly and freedom-reducing incidents. Eliminating religious ideology that divides people into camps of being right and wrong reduces the tribal friction that leads to violence, wars and death.

Those who behave selfishly are prone to use either religious or non-religious reasoning to suit their needs. Addressing their psychological state with therapeutic methods would be far better than introducing ideologies to such people. And altruism comes in religious and non-religious flavors. I'm uncertain that religion does any better at prompting altruism than any other entity or event (usually tragedy does more to inspire altruism than anything else).

Religions have had a good run. Why not try a different approach that is non-tribal and not defined by superstition and unprovable promises? There are many secular cultures in existence now that largely remain free of the sociological problems that plague highly religious nations.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:31 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Excellent question. Atheism itself does not provide any sort of moral framework, so I don't think atheism does anything to fill the gap. It leaves the option to find a moral framework not based upon deities, but it does not mandate it. I have seen no evidence that people stop being moral without god, but morality is not part of the atheist equation.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:38 AM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer
Religions have had a good run. Why not try a different approach that is non-tribal and not defined by superstition and unprovable promises? There are many secular cultures in existence now that largely remain free of the sociological problems that plague highly religious nations.


I don't see the need to consider these things mutually exclusive -- one doesn't need religion not to exist in order to try a different approach. You certainly can do outreach to the unchurched, which would be a more productive use of your time than trying to convert those who are solid in their religious beliefs (that goes the other way, of course, which is why I'd like to understand your perspective, and correct misstatements, but I see no value in trying to convert you.) The question is what you have to sell them.

I do, however, take exception with your leap in logic that infers that "highly religious nations" have sociological problems that "secular cultures" do not, and the sole reason is that they are religious nations. In working through the problem of whether religions are to blame for most of the evil man does to man, I not only discounted that as false, but also recognized that most acts that we attribute to religion are largely using religion to achieve an end that has nothing to do with religion. If you remove religion, the motivation for the end will simply drive whoever is wanting power to use other means (such as nationalism or racism, for example.)



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:38 AM
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Gosh....a lot of negativity towards atheists in this thread.

I tend to find that there's 4 Major Types of Atheists.

ATHEIST TYPE #1: A person who was raised Atheist all thru childhood by their parents. Generally a person raised Atheist (which includes many foreign countries like Russia and China) cannot relate to some of the other Atheists (see below) and tends not to discuss religion because of experiences of being attacked by Theists.

ATHEIST TYPE #2: A person who was raised in another religion (usually Christianity or Judaism) who came to the conclusion of Atheism by mere philosophical logic. Their logic is very methodical: If A, and if B, therefore C. And so forth. Philosophical Atheists like to talk and challenge their minds by discussion, reusing methodological reasoning to see if the reason still holds up or if they need adjustments.

ATHEIST TYPE #3: A person who was raised in another religion (usually Christianity of Judaism) who came to the conclusion of Atheism by Science(s)--specifically Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy, Zoology, etc. Some are open in discussion-others are not. Of those that are open in discussion, they usually get met in debate by Theists who do or do not accept the same scientific facts or Theists who came to different conclusions by the same facts or refusal to acknowledge certain facts.

ATHEIST TYPE #4: A person who was raised in another religion who loves to study religion. They usually study too many religions--different sects of Christianity, different denominations, World Religions (Buddhism, Hinduism), Native American religions, Animism, Ancient Religions (Greeks, Romans, Egyptians), etc. After studying so many other religions, they become Atheist by default--the inability the claim that one religion is "right" over another or that another religion is "wrong". They are usually very friendly towards all religions (after all, they became Atheist for loving to study different religions).

And then there's a lot of people who fall into a mixture of the above 4 categories. So I wouldn't lump Atheists into being "snobby" or "know-it-alls" because there's simply all different kinds of Atheists from all different backgrounds, combinations, different parental raisings, etc., that tend to have different perceptions than other Atheists.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:47 AM
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reply to post by MapMistress
 


Frankly, the only type of atheist that I have any trouble with, in discussion, is the angry type that feels that belittling and insulting a person of faith is a fair argument, or who feels that, simply because they believe something, that makes it an absolute fact. I believe in God. I don't believe that makes God's existence a fact. And I respect others' rights to hold their own beliefs without ridicule.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 09:48 AM
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Originally posted by adjensen
I do, however, take exception with your leap in logic that infers that "highly religious nations" have sociological problems that "secular cultures" do not, and the sole reason is that they are religious nations.


It's not actually a leap in logic. A while back I started this thread wherein separate studies had similar conclusions drawing parallels between religiosity and negative sociological problems. Both studies, myself and many posters agreed that society is far too complex to produce a definitive study that would prove beyond reasonable doubt that religion is the primary cause, but different studies using different data points reach the same conclusions. Buried in the thread are even more studies that are localized to the U.S. states and even those studies reach similar conclusions. Although, as I said, the results are not conclusive this is what I based my statement on, it's supported by at least some evidence, and therefore I feel this is more than simply a leap in logic.



posted on Jul, 20 2010 @ 10:46 AM
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Originally posted by traditionaldrummer

Originally posted by adjensen
I do, however, take exception with your leap in logic that infers that "highly religious nations" have sociological problems that "secular cultures" do not, and the sole reason is that they are religious nations.


It's not actually a leap in logic. A while back I started this thread wherein separate studies had similar conclusions drawing parallels between religiosity and negative sociological problems.


Well, I didn't read the thread all the way through, but all the people shouting down the guy who pointed out that the Soviet Union was atheistic, yet killed an awful lot of people, seemed to miss a key point -- in a non-democratic society, the spiritual practices of the populace are of no relevance, it's what the leaders practice or believe that does. So, to apply the religious practices of Denmark to their peacefulness but refuse to apply the religious practices of the Soviet Union seems shoddy academics at best. Ditto North Korea, Communist China, the Khmer Rouge, and many others.

In addition, the fellow postulating a correlation within the United States didn't post his sources, so I'm not sure what to take away from that. I live in a state generally considered to be one of the most religious (and conservative) and also one of the safest, but it appears on neither list, so either those widely held beliefs are wrong, or there is something in the definitions used that is unusual.

I don't dispute your data, but I do dispute that there aren't other factors at work which make the presence or absence of spirituality of significantly less importance than is claimed.



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