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Author Topic:   The evolution of an atheist.
Bikerman
Member (Idle past 3292 days)
Posts: 276
From: Frodsham, Chester
Joined: 07-30-2010


Message 196 of 280 (576573)
08-24-2010 3:15 PM
Reply to: Message 195 by GDR
08-24-2010 11:11 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
Yes I can define it.
I know that it is possible, however remote, that God exists, in the same way that I know it is possible, however remote, that there is an aether. I do not think any of them is true and I am prepared to make my case that neither is, but I will not say that I am certain of either.
Hence I deny that I have any belief in either case. I am persuaded by the evidence, and if the evidence changes then my position will change. If you want to use the word belief for this then I can see how it can be defended, but not as a synonymous term for belief in god. Belief can be regarded as adopting a position without proper evidence, based on emotional or unsubstantiated opinion. I have no such position.
Deists like to classify atheism as a belief because it puts it on the same footing as belief in the supernatural - or so they believe. It doesn't. I have no belief either way about Gods. I accept the poor evidence for any God, just as I accept the poor evidence for any aether.

The word 'faith' is even more problematic. Faith is best defined, I think, as belief even in spite of evidence. I do not adopt faith positions as a rule.

I also completely reject the use of faith as being necessary to define an ethical stance. As I have explained before, the Universal ethic is based on entirely rational principles and that is the ethic I follow (or try to).

Edited by Bikerman, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 195 by GDR, posted 08-24-2010 11:11 AM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 198 by GDR, posted 08-24-2010 11:48 PM Bikerman has responded

  
Trae
Member (Idle past 2642 days)
Posts: 442
From: Fremont, CA, USA
Joined: 06-18-2004


(1)
Message 197 of 280 (576618)
08-24-2010 7:31 PM
Reply to: Message 190 by GDR
08-24-2010 9:58 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
GDR writes:

You say that you are an atheist which means that you believe that there is no god(s). You can't prove it so therefore you have to believe that you are correct. Atheism is a belief just as much as Christianity is.


GDR, you've been registered since 2005, is it really the case that you don't yet to understand that all beliefs are not equal?

The Earth goes around the Sun.

President Obama is a secret Muslim.

Both are beliefs. How silly would it be for me to say, "President Obama is a secret Muslim is a belief just as much as the earth goes around the Sun is a belief?" Even if both are beliefs (they are) considerable misrepresentation occurs when we add 'just as much.' One belief has tons of evidence supporting the position, while the other seems little more than wishful thinking and guilt by association.

Reasonably there are probably faith based atheists who have reached atheism entirely or nearly entirely though faith. I suspect they're less common then we might imagine. Even if they exist, this does not mean that all atheists beliefs are entirely supported by faith.

It is just as unfair to judge all atheistic beliefs on weak arguments for atheism as it would be to judge all Christianity on the basis of weak arguments. Wouldn't it be better to judge the best augments instead? If you're not Mormon you possibly don't find all the Mormon arguments convincing. And if you find the Mormon arguments convincing then likely you find some the arguments of one or more of the following to be weak: Catholics, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Unitarians, Jehovah Witness, etc.

Look at it another way, is all disbelief all persons for the existence of Roman Gods entirely supported by faith only? Or in some cases is the disbelief of Roman Gods also supported by evidence?

It is probably more useful to think along the lines of how well supported a belief is or is not. The belief that the Earth goes around the Sun is very well-supported, while the belief of the existence of Roman Gods is not.

P.S. In the pure sense of the term atheist wouldn't be a belief. However, I am not convinced that one can in any depth defend one's atheism without developing beliefs about atheism.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 190 by GDR, posted 08-24-2010 9:58 AM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 199 by GDR, posted 08-25-2010 12:13 AM Trae has acknowledged this reply

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5039
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 198 of 280 (576654)
08-24-2010 11:48 PM
Reply to: Message 196 by Bikerman
08-24-2010 3:15 PM


Re: Theology and Imagination
Hi Bikerman

I wrote up a rebuttal to your post on what is belief and what is unbelief but deleted it. Let's face it, we won't agree and it's a discussion that won't lead anywhere. The evidence as you see it leads you to not believe in God and the evidence as I see it leads me to believe that God does exist. How's that?

Bikerman writes:

I also completely reject the use of faith as being necessary to define an ethical stance. As I have explained before, the Universal ethic is based on entirely rational principles and that is the ethic I follow (or try to).

Just curious as to where you think this universal ethic, (which I agree exists), comes from. Also, if we are just a chance combination of atoms why bother with it?

By the way, just for the record I believe that God is a lot happier with the guy who humbly tries to adhere to this universal ethic or "tao' as CS Lewis writes about in The Abolition of Man, than He is with some Christian who with smug superiority thinks he's ok because he has his theology right. JMHO


This message is a reply to:
 Message 196 by Bikerman, posted 08-24-2010 3:15 PM Bikerman has responded

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 Message 202 by Bikerman, posted 08-25-2010 12:39 AM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5039
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 199 of 280 (576657)
08-25-2010 12:13 AM
Reply to: Message 197 by Trae
08-24-2010 7:31 PM


Re: Theology and Imagination
Trae writes:

GDR, you've been registered since 2005, is it really the case that you don't yet to understand that all beliefs are not equal?

I'm not sure what you are reading into my posts where you've gotten the idea that I believe, (there's that word again), that all beliefs are created equal. Obviously they're not.

However when it comes to religious beliefs, (or lack of belief just to keep everyone happy ), then I think that we can agree that we can both look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions.

I consider that the case that can be made for theism is much stronger than the case that can be made for atheism yet we might both be looking at the same information.

In discussion with other theists I think that the case that can be made for Christianity is stronger than the case that can be made for other faiths. Having said that though I am quite prepared to agree that the case is more tenuous than the case for theism in general, and I will also concede that there is a great deal I don't know about my own faith let alone other faiths. There’s always so much more to learn.

However, I absolutely agree that not all beliefs are equal and that there is more evidence for our belief that the earth revolves around the sun than there is for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I guess I would add that it takes very little faith to believe that the earth revolves around the sun, it takes more faith to believe in the resurrection of Jesus, and more faith again to believe in the Roman gods.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 200 of 280 (576660)
08-25-2010 12:31 AM
Reply to: Message 199 by GDR
08-25-2010 12:13 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
GDR writes:
I consider that the case that can be made for theism is much stronger than the case that can be made for atheism ...

While that might be true, it seems irrelevant.

Somebody can be an atheist because they find the case for theism to be unpersuasive. They do not need a case for atheism.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 199 by GDR, posted 08-25-2010 12:13 AM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 201 by GDR, posted 08-25-2010 12:36 AM nwr has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5039
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 201 of 280 (576661)
08-25-2010 12:36 AM
Reply to: Message 200 by nwr
08-25-2010 12:31 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
nwr writes:

Somebody can be an atheist because they find the case for theism to be unpersuasive. They do not need a case for atheism.

Fair enough, but there do seem to me a number of people who are trying very hard to make the case for atheism. (Dawkins, Hitchens etc.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 200 by nwr, posted 08-25-2010 12:31 AM nwr has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 203 by nwr, posted 08-25-2010 1:16 AM GDR has responded

  
Bikerman
Member (Idle past 3292 days)
Posts: 276
From: Frodsham, Chester
Joined: 07-30-2010


Message 202 of 280 (576662)
08-25-2010 12:39 AM
Reply to: Message 198 by GDR
08-24-2010 11:48 PM


Re: Theology and Imagination
I'm sure I've explained this before..maybe it was another forum...
OK, the notion that atheists are somehow nihilistic forlorn people with no central meaning to their lives is commonly put about by theists and it is ridiculous. Most theists probably spend a few minutes a day (if that in many cases) thinking about God. The rest of the time they do what I do - get on with life.
It is doubly stupid because, let's face it, very very few religious people actually believe what their church tells them. For catholics to use contraception would be crazy if they really think there is a heaven and hell. It would be certifiable to even think about condoms and face an infinity of torment. Yet Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world - and don't tell me the rhythm method has suddenly started working better :-)

The only people I see who really believe what their scriptures and clerics tell them about the afterlife are Al-Queda and the Taliban. They KNOW that this life is nothing, and it is all about the next one. They really do believe it. As for the rest? It is a social club with a bit of singing on Sundays.

As for the universal ethic:
http://www.foldvary.net/works/ue1.html


This message is a reply to:
 Message 198 by GDR, posted 08-24-2010 11:48 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 207 by GDR, posted 08-25-2010 2:31 PM Bikerman has responded

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5587
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 203 of 280 (576665)
08-25-2010 1:16 AM
Reply to: Message 201 by GDR
08-25-2010 12:36 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
GDR writes:
Fair enough, but there do seem to me a number of people who are trying very hard to make the case for atheism.

I agree with that. My point is that someone can be an atheist without needing a case to be made.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 201 by GDR, posted 08-25-2010 12:36 AM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 206 by Bikerman, posted 08-25-2010 4:49 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply
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Minnemooseus
Member
Posts: 3779
From: Duluth, Minnesota, U.S. (West end of Lake Superior)
Joined: 11-11-2001
Member Rating: 5.3


Message 204 of 280 (576666)
08-25-2010 1:17 AM


The definition of atheism
As I see it, atheism is "the lack of a belief in God" (a-theism = without theism). A logical (or is it?) extension to this is "the belief there is no God".

Now, certainly, the difference between "the lack of a belief in God" and "the belief there is no God" is splitting hairs. I would look upon it as the difference between "the lack of belief" and "the belief of lack".

I think that an atheist can be very confident in his "lack of belief" while simultaneously being more uncertain (agnostic) about his "belief in lack". Perhaps the difference is in that "a lack in belief" is based on an personally understood definition of God, while "a belief in lack" is open to the possibility of a new understanding or new definition of God.

As such, atheism can be viewed as both a "lack of belief system" and as a "belief system". But the daily functional aspect of atheism is the "lack of belief system".

Moose


Professor, geology, Whatsamatta U
Evolution - Changes in the environment, caused by the interactions of the components of the environment.

"Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer." - Bruce Graham

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." - John Kenneth Galbraith

"Yesterday on Fox News, commentator Glenn Beck said that he believes President Obama is a racist. To be fair, every time you watch Glenn Beck, it does get a little easier to hate white people." - Conan O'Brien

"I know a little about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things, but I'm highly ignorant about everything." - Moose


Replies to this message:
 Message 205 by Bikerman, posted 08-25-2010 3:12 AM Minnemooseus has acknowledged this reply
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Bikerman
Member (Idle past 3292 days)
Posts: 276
From: Frodsham, Chester
Joined: 07-30-2010


Message 205 of 280 (576676)
08-25-2010 3:12 AM
Reply to: Message 204 by Minnemooseus
08-25-2010 1:17 AM


Re: The definition of atheism
The problem is entirely semantic conditioning. We have a language which is deficient in this particular area - which is our own fault, of course. The word belief is used ambiguously all the time, until it doesn't actually have an unambiguous use any more. That's why I try to avoid the word altogether - it is worse than useless since it allows easy deciet.

I accept what I understand the best evidence to propose. If there is more evidence for A than B then I will tend to accept A. I am trying to think of exceptions but non come to mind. What does come to mind is that there are 2 situations when this approach does not work.

a) When the competing possibilities cannot be separated by evidence.

b) When dealing with philosophical areas - right/wrong/justice/fairness - basically the human squishy bits rather than physical non-living systems.

I don't want to fire this thread on a sidetrack, having started another on philosophy already, but I genuinely think that is a sensible statement of the situation.

Obviously science can feed into the squishy bits. The scientific method can ensure that what data we do have is as good as it can be. But the decision is ultimately one of judgement/experience and, yes, belief (but only to the extent that anything is ultimately axiomatic, including science - science starts with a few axioms - that the universe will behave consistently, or relatively so. I mean, if the physical constants DID actually change over time then science is screwed. We don't think it is reasonable that they did - and if they had then it must have been in specific ways, but I cannot state with certainty that c is constant back to t=0).

There, though, the similarity ends, because science has one crucial advantage - it is constantly referenced/tested against observation/experiment. No other subject or mode of thought is, or can be. That alone is a clinching argument for preferring the scientific method, where it is applicable, over any alternative.

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Add more blank lines.


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Bikerman
Member (Idle past 3292 days)
Posts: 276
From: Frodsham, Chester
Joined: 07-30-2010


Message 206 of 280 (576679)
08-25-2010 4:49 AM
Reply to: Message 203 by nwr
08-25-2010 1:16 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
Indeed, and we are surrounded by examples - children. Dawkins fumes about infants being called 'Christian' or 'Jewish' and he is dead right. We wouldn't call a toddler a marxist or a conservative, so why is it ok to call them Catholic or Anglican? They are atheists in any real definition since even if they have a coherent conception of God is, which is doubtful, it is not 'belief in a deity' in any sense that would be understood by most people...

Edited by Bikerman, : No reason given.


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GDR
Member
Posts: 5039
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 207 of 280 (576764)
08-25-2010 2:31 PM
Reply to: Message 202 by Bikerman
08-25-2010 12:39 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
Bikerman writes:

I'm sure I've explained this before..maybe it was another forum...
OK, the notion that atheists are somehow nihilistic forlorn people with no central meaning to their lives is commonly put about by theists and it is ridiculous. Most theists probably spend a few minutes a day (if that in many cases) thinking about God. The rest of the time they do what I do - get on with life.

I don't disagree with that at all, but on the other hand although I don't spend a great deal of time in the day thinking about God, (I spend a great deal of time thinking about me which is the basic problem), I have over the years developed a conditioned response to at least attempt to respond to whatever happens in the way that I believe God would want me to respond. (Not always with a great deal of success.)

Biklerman writes:

It is doubly stupid because, let's face it, very very few religious people actually believe what their church tells them. For catholics to use contraception would be crazy if they really think there is a heaven and hell. It would be certifiable to even think about condoms and face an infinity of torment. Yet Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world - and don't tell me the rhythm method has suddenly started working better :-)

At my age the rhythm method works just fine and I'm not even Catholic. To be honest I do believe what my church teaches as I know do the majority of others in my church. (I spend time with them in home groups etc so I do know pretty much what it is they believe. It's a small Anglican church.)

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.

Edited by GDR, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 202 by Bikerman, posted 08-25-2010 12:39 AM Bikerman has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 215 by Bikerman, posted 08-26-2010 12:42 PM GDR has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 5039
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 208 of 280 (576765)
08-25-2010 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 203 by nwr
08-25-2010 1:16 AM


Re: Theology and Imagination
nwr writes:

I agree with that. My point is that someone can be an atheist without needing a case to be made.

Absolutely but the same can be said for a theist. In order to accept atheism you have to accept that the universe and life evolved naturally from whatever there was at T=0. I can say that I can't accept that so I must be a theist.


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Replies to this message:
 Message 209 by Stile, posted 08-25-2010 3:03 PM GDR has responded
 Message 211 by Nij, posted 08-26-2010 6:20 AM GDR has responded
 Message 214 by Phage0070, posted 08-26-2010 11:55 AM GDR has responded

  
Stile
Member
Posts: 3863
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 209 of 280 (576772)
08-25-2010 3:03 PM
Reply to: Message 208 by GDR
08-25-2010 2:46 PM


Re: Theology and Imagination
GDR writes:

In order to accept atheism you have to accept that the universe and life evolved naturally from whatever there was at T=0. I can say that I can't accept that so I must be a theist.

Only if one is a rational and consistent and knowledgeable-about-origins atheist.

Not all people are rational and consistent and knowledgeable-about-origins.

However, if you would like to give the benefit of the doubt and say that all atheists necessarily must be completey rational and consistent and all of them are educated well enough to be knowledgeable about origins... just because they are "atheists"... then I will thank you for the compliment


This message is a reply to:
 Message 208 by GDR, posted 08-25-2010 2:46 PM GDR has responded

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GDR
Member
Posts: 5039
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 210 of 280 (576783)
08-25-2010 3:43 PM
Reply to: Message 209 by Stile
08-25-2010 3:03 PM


Re: Theology and Imagination
Well some are certainly rational and consistent. You are, but it always concerns me as to how such a rational and consistent group can be so rationally and consistently wrong.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Stile, posted 08-25-2010 3:03 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

  
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