Is Atheism An Excuse To Embrace Immoral Behaviour?

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xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 08:17 am
@William,
William wrote:
I will agree there are those who don't necessarily believe in a God, and on the same token don't necessarily not believe in God either. Those in my opinion are not the "atheists" in question and honestly I don't think they should be called atheists. Let's just call them good people. My parents were "good people". Very moral and never went to church. IMO, you won't here peep out of these good people. I am not afraid of a single religion. Not in the least because I know the roots behind it. Now if I were to start tweaking a persons faith, then I would have reason to fear. You just don't do that. With the exception of on the rare occasion when someone comes to my door wanting to share their faith, does it ever arise. I understand this. I am not threatened by it. Now if I were to go to the local Wal-Mart and approach a woman wearing a Burka and comment on how ridiculous she looks, I deserve any wrath that might ensue. It's these loud mouthed atheists I have a problem with. IMO.
william
I cant say ive come across those atheists who would be so ignorant as the ones you mention. I must say your experiences have coloured your views but then certain believers i have encountered have coloured mine.Atheists come in many hues so do the faithful , debate the principles not the individuals should be our motto.
 
William
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 08:18 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Can you imagine a person, without a 'god' in their life, being good? Sure! (at least I hope), it happens all the time! If there's truth in this, the broad-categorization (that atheism leads to sin, immorality and wrongdoing) falls apart.


Absolutely my friend and it is not, and I use the word loosely, these atheists in discussion here. I put my parents in that group yet I do not consider them "atheists". The self proclaimed loud mouthed thrashers of morality and any attempt to achieve it religious or otherwise, is what concerns me. Thanks for your comments. Oh and by the way, you are the atheist I was referring to in an earlier post. I hope you don't mind. Ha. :a-ok:

William

xris wrote:
I cant say ive come across those atheists who would be so ignorant as the ones you mention. I must say your experiences have coloured your views but then certain believers i have encountered have coloured mine.Atheists come in many hues so do the faithful , debate the principles not the individuals should be our motto.


In all due respect, you have to be kidding. It has nothing to do with ignorance. It has to do with morality. When that word appears in any context, religion becomes the punching bag as if religion is the gatekeeper of all morality. It is not religion that the loud mouthed atheists are truly offended by, it's morality. This is a no brainer, IMO. Religion just gives them a target to shoot at.
William
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 09:46 am
@xris,
William wrote:
In all due respect, you have to be kidding. It has nothing to do with ignorance. It has to do with morality. When that word appears in any context, religion becomes the punching bag as if religion is the gatekeeper of all morality. It is not religion that the loud mouthed atheists are truly offended by, it's morality. This is a no brainer, IMO. Religion just gives them a target to shoot at.
William
I think you have missed the boat..Atheist in general complain that religion thinks it has the strangle hold on moralty. If ever i see anyone moaning about morals its the faithful telling atheists they have none.Would you say RCs have morals that an atheist would approve of or Muslims scriptures define good moral principles or the mormon history can be proud of it moral past and present..For every atheist in this world i would not be suprised to find a sect or faith in the same amount..to be so scathing on your attack you must include those faiths that are not tolerant and dont teach a respectable morality.
 
William
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:05 am
@xris,
xris wrote:
I think you have missed the boat..Atheist in general complain that religion thinks it has the strangle hold on moralty. If ever i see anyone moaning about morals its the faithful telling atheists they have none.Would you say RCs have morals that an atheist would approve of or Muslims scriptures define good moral principles or the mormon history can be proud of it moral past and present..For every atheist in this world i would not be suprised to find a sect or faith in the same amount..to be so scathing on your attack you must include those faiths that are not tolerant and dont teach a respectable morality.


Nice try. You know full well what I am talking about. Before you know it you will be including satanism, witchcraft, paganism, snake worship, in the lot. Sorry, that dog want hunt. Hell, there may be a religion out there that worships the three toed sloth too. Include them while you are at it if if makes you feel better. But you have proved my point about always loping morality and religion together. But if you would please identify to me a particular "moral" that religion seeks to force on you that you are personally offended with?
Thanks,
William
 
Justin
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:35 am
@Pusyphus,
Is Theism An Excuse To Embrace Immoral Behaviour?

I'm a little perplexed. In the above heading I simply removed the 'A' in Theism. Think about it.

Now, I've read and re-read this original post and I have to say I simply do not understand. Is there a certain group this is directed at? Is there something happening with a certain group of atheists in high positions of government or other that I'm not aware of. Honestly, I watch very little news so I'm not as informed as many of you. Now onto the thread.

Pythagorean wrote:
Is the atheism of modern, Western people just an excuse for them to get away with acting in ways that are immoral?


Pyth, this is confusing... very confusing IMHO. I had no idea that Atheists were immoral, I thought people were immoral. Any atheist I have ever met has held to a higher moral standard than most religious people I've met, but then again, the only thing that separates them is the doctrine of another man.

Pythagorean wrote:
What I'm suggesting is that a great bulk of the Western individuals who claim to be atheists have NOT arrived at the position of atheism as the natural result of theological inquiry; but rather that they have arrived at their atheism because it is the position that excuses the kind of behviour that under any other circumstances would be considered as bad conduct (behaviour such as supporting Democratic Socialism as a form of government, which removes responsibility from the level of the individual and allows for an encroaching despotism from the rule of the few within big, oversized or Super-sized, government).


Just lost me. You're suggesting that people that claim atheism or the belief that there is no Gods or deities are doing it to excuse bad behavior? Is this correct? I actually think it's the other way around. Take the word Atheism and replace it with Theism and then it will start to make more sense... I think.

I'm not necessarily an Atheist but I'm also not a dead nut either. If I should be a theist then which man should I allow to mould and shape my mind? Who should I believe? Satan made me do it!... and why does God allow evil into the world? Do you see my point?

The word Atheism is a label. It's a label that one man places on another to describe skepticism. Should we just follow the Kock-a-mainey beliefs that have been indoctrinated into man... If so, which one? Isn't this the blind leading the blind? I really do not understand the point of your original post.

Pythagorean wrote:
So atheism is embraced merely because it gives these individuals freedom from the constraints that any normal society would naturally place upon the individual. The embrace of atheism and despotic Democratic Socialism gives the individual an incredible amount of freedom (if by freedom we include the wanton rage of unconscious desire and appetite).


Is theism normal society? What can we call normal? Let's all line up with blind folds on and touch each others' shoulders and follow the person ahead of us.

If anything, Theism provides the excuse. We just talked about this with my theistic family not days ago. One of them admitted that they are Hypocrites, the difference is that they go to church and they've given their life to Christ and worship Christ and are forgiven when they sin. OMG - If that's theism give me more atheism. At least an Atheist is going to be moral for valid reasons. I might add that I've observed things with this particular theist that I perceive to be immoral... but, God, Jesus and Satan are the scapegoat if nothing at all.

Immorality is an individual choice and from what I've observed in business, life, watching and living, there's much more immorality practiced in religious doctrines than in atheism. From a business perspective, my worst customers are the born again theists. My wife was a waitress and her worst day at work was Sunday when all the moral theists came in after church and stiffed her on tips. C'mon, get real and don't get me started on the immorality and prostitution of mankind made by religions and mystical deity's and scapegoats galore.

Pythagorean wrote:
But this freedom under immoral socialism is done for private pleasure as opposed to theological or philosophical conviction. It is private pleasure masquerading as a human right, the thrall of food and sex and money as true freedom in the midst of government encroachment and shrinking responsibilities of the individual.


Religion has shrunk the responsibility of the individual. An individual isn't responsible because God has a plan for their life. Pyth, I'm simply perplexed.


Pythagorean wrote:
It is this political component that seems to be the key for me. I ask myself: why would an atheist need to fight against Christianity or be political at all? Why can't they be silent atheists? And the answer is that their atheism is political because its purpose is to give them immunity for what could be universally recognized as bad or immoral behaviour. Atheism is about immoral behaviour NOT about the possibility of theology.


I wholeheartedly disagree and I'm not an atheist or a theist I'm a human being. This is a broad generalization and untrue. You see, it's the Theist that is constantly telling everyone how they should live and what they should do and not the other way around. The Theist has the immunity under God or Allah or whatever you choose to call that deity in the sky.

"Atheism is about immoral behaviour NOT about the possibility of theology."

Wrong. Here's what I pulled out of Wikipedia:[INDENT]Atheism, as an explicit position, can be either the affirmation of belief in the nonexistence of a god or gods,[1] or the rejection of theism.[2] It is also[3] defined more broadly as an absence of belief in deities, or nontheism.[4]


Many self-described atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism[5] and naturalism,[6] there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere;[7] and some religions, such as Jainism and Buddhism, do not require belief in a personal god.


The term atheism originated as a pejorative epithet applied to any person or belief in conflict with established religion.[8][9] With the spread of freethought, scientific skepticism, and criticism of religion, the term began to gather a more specific meaning and has been increasingly used as a self-description by atheists.
[/INDENT]
Icon wrote:
"Be the change you want to see in the world" Ghandi.


AMEN BROTHER! Love the unlovely. Forgive 70 x 7, turn the other cheek and be the change you expect to see in others. Those aren't words of a hypocrite with a free pass to heaven through a religious belief.

Bones-O! wrote:
You know what gives acceptance to immorality? Collective hate and group rage such as we're seeing on this thread. Get enough people together who agree in their protestations and rational thinking goes out of the window. There's nothing more immoral than a club with a cause. It takes a group like Catholics to do something as immoral as throwing stones at children going to a Protestant school, as in Northern Ireland a few years back. Religion just gives you one more reason to attack people.


True. They'll run you over pulling out of the church parking lot because they are forgiven through the blood of the lamb.

William wrote:
First let me apologize for my outburst. After years of observing the same back and forth dialog it truly becomes hard to take. It just seems whenever the higher values of man that "may" constitute morality, such as respect, decency, character, trust, responsibility, compassion, understanding, truth, honesty, faith enter any dialog religion enters the picture when it truly has nothing to do with those higher values.


Thanks for cleaning up the rant William. The back and forth is good for the mind and soul and with it we wake up. All these values discussed are a personal choice in a collective world. We choose to believe in one thing or another and we choose to be moral or immoral. We choose everything and likewise create it.

William wrote:
If I am correct, what Pyth is saying many who, for whatever reason cannot abide by those higher values use religion as a scapegoat thinking if they could just wipe out religion, any semblance of morality would go with it, giving the relief they so desperately need from the guilt that torments them. IMO.


Are you sure? If that's what Pyth is saying or means, then I'm more lost than I was when I started. Maybe I've read it wrong. If so, please pyth correct me because I've sort of gone on a rant with this. Goes to show that what one person perceives to be one thing, someone else may perceive it to be different.

William wrote:
I have often wondered why they complain so much? They are protected within the law and are untouchable. Then I realized, it's simple. The reason these who make the most noise want religion and God obliterated is because on the outside chance there is a God, they won't go to hell alone.


I don't necessarily agree with this. Hell is something that man not only defines and describes but it's something he also creates. Religion and God are also defined by man just as hell is. Heaven and Hell and inside man and not something separate from mankind just as God is not separate from God's creation. I don't even like the term God because it's automatically imaged as a deity outside of humankind.

The only reason I could see for removing God and Religion would be so that humankind would wake up and start taking responsibility for what we are doing to our neighbors, our friends, our constituents, our enemies and everyone else we encounter. If there were no God and no Religion, then the burden lies upon the shoulder of man and there would be no scapegoat so in essence, man would finally wake up to what was described in the 'Sermon on the Mount'.

William wrote:
Khethil, you said: "In fact, what I tend to see is that the considered atheist is generally quite moral since their ethos doesn't pawn off responsibility for acts (good and bad) on ethereal concepts such as 'god', fate, predestination, preordination, karma or the like. This leads the atheist to a place where they've no scapegoat on which to relieve responsibility."

Khethil - High five, thumbs up.

William wrote:
Then, why make such a fuss? Why would they care? I'm sorry I think you are very wrong here. You perception of the theist "pawning" off responsibility to a higher power is IMO and immense exaggeration and one that ads fuel to the fire and offers justification for those "loud" atheists to refer to those of faith as the herd, when in actually if the truth were known their faith provides them with a respite they need to exist in this chaotic world. A world the atheist finds, in all probability, no problem with since they are going to end up spending the rest of eternity in a dark black hole anyway, or so they think. How could there be any morality in a life that ends in such a manner?


I have one word to say to all this. BALANCE! We live in a chaotic world because people have taken leaps of faith rather than work in balance with God and our fellow human beings. Chaos is a result of false faiths based on ignorant claims and beliefs of one blind man being led by another. Forget the rabbit hole, forget the desire and the search, forget philosophy... Oh ye of little faith. Let's just put the blindfolds on and blame the chaos of the world on anything but our own creativity and lack of BALANCE! - Which is expressed so lovely in all of creation.


Pythagorean wrote:
I am not saying that there aren't some atheists who have genuinely studied the matter and have fairly come to the conclusion that there is not God. These I have respectfully called 'silent atheists'. I am speaking here rather of those who hide their political and social support for basic immorality under the label of atheism. They use atheism as a kind of "get-out-of-responsibility-for-free" card. As long as Christianity is an evil in their minds they can do anything they please, there is no lowest point of human depravity for them.


I'm not an atheist but I'm not dead either. I refuse to put the blindfold of faith just as I refuse to put a noose around my neck and call it a day.

When it's all said and done Pyth, WHO are the ATHEISTS you refer to in your original post? I've not met these but I do know that people call themselves all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons. We tend to label everything and are very judgmental.

That's my rant after reading this thread. Please forgive me if I've offended anyone as that was not the intent at all. If I've misread something or perceived something to be something it's not, then I stand corrected.

Disclaimer: I'm not an atheist. I'm not a Christian. I'm not an ism or an ist. I'm a human being that is searching for truth in this journey of life and thankful to be here with you all to experience it.
 
JLP
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:38 am
@William,
William wrote:
Nice try. You know full well what I am talking about. Before you know it you will be including satanism, witchcraft, paganism, snake worship, in the lot. Sorry, that dog want hunt. Hell, there may be a religion out there that worships the three toed sloth too. Include them while you are at it if if makes you feel better. But you have proved my point about always loping morality and religion together. But if you would please identify to me a particular "moral" that religion seeks to force on you that you are personally offended with?
Thanks,
William


So, some religions are legitimate and others aren't?
What standards determine which is which and who will play the role of arbiter?

Terms like "offensive" and "good" or "bad" are largely subjective.
I could provide you with a list of things from the Old Testament that I find morally deplorable. Could you do the same for the short list of religions that you've disdainfully cited above? I doubt it.

I absolutely agree with Kethil's position in this thread.
If you want to discuss the particular faults or virtues of religion, then lets define our terms, argue intricately, and do so in good faith, with specificity (and citing from textual authority).
To continue lumping such complicated collections of ideology, dogma, and doctrine into simple dichotomies is old hat and unproductive. Moreover, it reveals a bigotry towards, and ignorance of, the religions so casually cast into the "contempt" pile.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:43 am
@Pythagorean,
How do you account for theists who behave immorally and atheists who behave morally?

Finding a philosophy or creed to justify one's actions is just rationalization, whatever you believe.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:15 pm
@Aedes,
After reading some of the posts here I have come to some conclusions. I would like to develop some general, historical categories within which we may frame the debate.

There is a rather deep divide here. There is a rather wide space which seperates two sides. I don't think that anyone could disagree on the number of sides, there are two, no more and no less.

I emphasize the fact that there are two sides because there is a need to understand this situation and it is impossible for us as human beings to comprehend things in the world unless we have recourse to generalizations. Without generalizing we would be left with an insurmountable quantity of isolated bits of information with no scheme or possibility to construct an intelligible, meaningful perspective. Without systemization and caterogization the world would remain incomprehensible to us.

So it should be clear that most of the posters here fall into either one of two categories. You are now, by the expression of your own (sometimes deeply) held ideas, simply a member of a category.

What I am saying is that you are not original. Whether you know it or not you are part of an historical, cultural and political reality, known generally as Western Civilization. Atheism is a fad, a fashion or a social and cultural movement that took root in the Western world (formerly known as Christiandom) at a certain time (beginning especially in the late 19th Century). After the French Revolution the era of Romanticism opened up the natural world where poets and revolutionaries staked out their distance from the earlier forms of a more fundamentalist Christianity. Before that time atheism was about as rare a phenomenon as a proponent of mass slavery would be in today's modern, Western world.

And this historical European centered movement, which was highly political, did not really arrive on American shores until the 1960's cultural and social revolution. We are today products of both the deeply engrained Christianity which previously dominated American culture, on the one hand, and the post 1960's anti-Western, atheistic, revolutionary political and cultural movement, on the other hand.

So ever since the cultural movement of the 1960's there have been two camps in America. One atheist and 'progressive' or revolutionary, and the other Christian and conservative. These two camps are widely known as the "Left" and the "Right" in American political, cultural, and academic circles.


So now, after this brief sketch, we can now place a label upon the two sides in this debate:

Those who are the proponents of atheism are generally speaking, "Leftists", and those who believe that Christian moral suppositions are indispensible for the survival of liberty are members of the "Right". Of course this is not an iron clad classification as no classificatioin can ever be. But even so, no one can be both anything and everything unless they risk being nothing.

My original post was directed towards the activist political movement - a movement which understands itself to be part of the wider cultural and historical turn within the Western world. Of these I would call out for special attention the best selling authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

These authors do not make investigations into the truth or possibility of theology. I say that their true motives do not lie withint the field of theology at all. They aren't really interested in whether there is a God or no. They are involved in the larger political, revolutionary and progressive liberalism.

As for genuine atheists. There is certainly nothing wrong in my mind with it. If one comes to certain theological conclusions out of honest study and thought, then it must be left up to the individual conscience. We must respect each invidividual's decision made in the privacy of their own mind.

--
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:22 pm
@William,
William wrote:
Nice try. You know full well what I am talking about. Before you know it you will be including satanism, witchcraft, paganism, snake worship, in the lot. Sorry, that dog want hunt. Hell, there may be a religion out there that worships the three toed sloth too. Include them while you are at it if if makes you feel better. But you have proved my point about always loping morality and religion together. But if you would please identify to me a particular "moral" that religion seeks to force on you that you are personally offended with?
Thanks,
William
In my country sunday trading was and is a contentious interference in a secular country.I dont feel immoral going to the shops or pub on a sunday..Having to live in a christian country we have to lie to get our kids into school and have to look faithful when involved in certain aspects of society..It infringes on my moral freedoms..
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 02:50 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pythagorean wrote:
Atheism is a fad, a fashion or a social and cultural movement that took root in the Western world (formerly known as Christiandom) at a certain time (beginning especially in the late 19th Century).
Confucianists and Buddhists are atheistic, and it can be argued that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all atheistic.

By the way, it's also not original for a theist to accuse doubters of innate immorality.
 
Icon
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 03:29 pm
@Pythagorean,
Ummmm. Christianity is a fad started around 0 A.D. because the Romans were tired of having to give gifts to so many god so they said "Screw it, let's become monotheists and create a God who doesn't want gifts. This way there is more for us!"

See, I can generalize and throw wild accusations out there too. It doesn't make me right

By the way... Isn't it in the creed of most theistic individuals to NOT judge those around you? As I recall, judgment is reserved for the one true God... I could be wrong. I've only read the bible 6 or 7 times. (since we seem to be focusing on monotheism and Christianity)
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 03:43 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Confucianists and Buddhists are atheistic, and it can be argued that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all atheistic.


They didn't live in the modern world with its internal divisions and its indigenous loyaties. They had their own divisions. It can be asked whether or not there can be an authentic Platonist in America where there is no academy instituted in his name. And I do not see much evidence of genuine expressions of Buhddism or Confucianism in the general culture.

Quote:
By the way, it's also not original for a theist to accuse doubters of innate immorality.


As I have said previously and repeatedly, I do not think it immoral for someone to be a non-theist. I do not see where such evidence would even come from.

The problem lies in the difference between a non-theist and a political activist. It is a category mistake.

--
 
manored
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 04:03 pm
@Pythagorean,
I think this thread has got to a point of confusion with the generalizations and labels it is using that it has became a discussion where people question other's absurd thoughts based on wrong interpretations of what the other meant with the said generalizations and labels. For example Pythagorean especified recently what he wanted to mean with atheists on this thread, but Aedes took the word with the meaning that it usually means, rather than the meaning Pythagorean had given it. Its important to realize that several "labels" were created in this thread for the sake of facilitating the discussion. If you read something in a way that sounds negative to you, search for positive interpretations: It will avoid rage wars and if per change your positive interpretation is wrong it will be clarified eventually.
 
William
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 05:07 pm
@Pythagorean,
Justin, sorry I still haven't learned how to use that "multi-quote" dood-dad yet.
I wanted to make a further comment on the below dialog.

William,
I have often wondered why they complain so much? They are protected within the law and are untouchable. Then I realized, it's simple. The reason these who make the most noise want religion and God obliterated is because on the outside chance there is a God, they won't go to hell alone.

Justin,
"I don't necessarily agree with this. Hell is something that man not only defines and describes but it's something he also creates. Religion and God are also defined by man just as hell is. Heaven and Hell and inside man and not something separate from mankind just as God is not separate from God's creation. I don't even like the term God because it's automatically imaged as a deity outside of humankind.

The only reason I could see for removing God and Religion would be so that humankind would wake up and start taking responsibility for what we are doing to our neighbors, our friends, our constituents, our enemies and everyone else we encounter. If there were no God and no Religion, then the burden lies upon the shoulder of man and there would be no scapegoat so in essence, man would finally wake up to what was described in the 'Sermon on the Mount'".

William,
Justin, I know that statement was a shot in the dark, but to some degree to me it makes sense.
Heaven and hell are metaphors illustrating as best man can "truth and consequences". Truth, IMO being to that degree that we understand our "oneness" with God and attempting to attune with that undisturbable harmony, and the consequences of not. By eliminating any "concept" of "God" and that eternal nature, there are no consequences, only death. The End. Of course there would be no heaven either. In other words, we get one shot at it and that is where greed comes from. Truth or consequences mean nothing as we rape and pillage this planet for all we can before "the end" and regard our spoils as blessings.

On the use of the word "God", I am with you 100%. I only use it to communicate, yet I do have a definition for God: It is that inexplicable core that drives, oversees and maintains the precision, harmonic and infinite perfection that is the universe. To effort to apply "human traits" to that core is the height of folly. It is that assumption that has got us all screwed up. The human being is not some 'toy' created for the amusement of a God as He observes us stumbling around in the dark. That would be evil and not God. We are the sensate manifestation of God becoming "human". For us to understand the magnitude of this takes a while.
I have never advocated any religion. Here is where I think you could use a little fine tuning. If anyone thinks that eliminating religion will then insure or taking responsibility for our own actions, is wishful thinking and will never happen. Yes it is our burden, but eliminating religion is not the way to go about it. What must be done is to create a reality in which religion is "not needed". Then it will go away. That is the only way.

Religion provides a haven or sanctuary for the powerless, the weak, the ignorant and oppressed who have no control over there lives whatsoever in a world in which no such haven should be needed if we were indeed humane. We have the where with all to be that humane right now. It is a wonderful thing to become enlightened that light from within. It is a gift to the wise. Not all are so gifted and we must establish an environment in which even the weakest among us need not be afraid, oppressed, controlled or threatened so their light can shine.

William
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 08:31 pm
@Pythagorean,
Pyth,

It seems you're taking a subset of a subset of a subset of a subset of atheists and making a point that is only generalizable to what you have in mind.

If you're going to define atheists as something other than disbelief in a deity, then we don't have our terminology straight and you're running the risk of bleeding your critique of "atheists" over into other definitions. I suggest you choose a new word.

Irrespective of era, irrespective of culture, atheism has existed since antiquity. And even if a subset of modern western atheism (which honestly traces itself back to Hume and to utilitarianism) does meet the description in your thesis, you provide ZERO evidence that your conclusions are generalizable.

Furthermore, you fail to acknowledge that people generally develop their moral character LONG before they finalize their beliefs. Beliefs are trendy, but good people and bad people declare themselves as such much earlier.


Finally, please answer me this question in a simple yes / no way:

Is it possible that a self-conscious atheist can be a truly good person?



Pythagorean wrote:
The problem lies in the difference between a non-theist and a political activist. It is a category mistake.
The real mistake is to assume that coincidental views about a) God and b) political issue x are somehow causal, rather than statistically both likely.

In other words, atheists are more likely to be pro-choice and theists more likely to be pro-life. But that doesn't mean that one position leads to the other. All it means is that the way a person evaluates the world very likely independently leads to common conclusions.

manored wrote:
Pythagorean especified recently what he wanted to mean with atheists on this thread, but Aedes took the word with the meaning that it usually means, rather than the meaning Pythagorean had given it.
And rightly so. If philosophical discourse is contingent upon the consistency of language, then it's a logical sham to go redefining words on your own. It allows you to make up the rules as you go along. That's not how logic works.
 
gre107
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 09:43 pm
@Pythagorean,
All men are born Atheists.
It is not until they cannot explain something do they turn to the supernatural.
All cultures have done this.
And all that believe in the supernatural say that their god(s) are the true ones and all others are fake or make-believe.

To believe in the supernatural is to lie to oneself about what little they know or better yet are willing to learn.

For all of the millions of deities that man has created what has it accomplished?
War, hate and ignorance to knowledge?

The "heads" of the religious class/component of any culture have always used the ignorance of the everyday man to their benefit. They use their "faithful" masses to undermine the ruling class so they can get their way and survive. They are the bottom feeders of society. History has shown us this time and time again. We even see it today when leaders bow down to these criminals of mankind so they can still keep their position.

When will the "everyday" man realize that they are being duped? Was Socrates right when he said that we as a species will not further ourselves until all are educated and able to critically think? Only until then will we be able to live "the good/moral life".

It saddens me, to see that man at this day and age, still clings to the imaginary and cannot admit that there is still a long road to travel.

Fear of the unknown is no excuse to be ignorant. Security will not further our knowledge but take it away from us.

Peace
 
Aedes
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 09:48 pm
@gre107,
gre107;45914 wrote:
To believe in the supernatural is to lie to oneself about what little they know or better yet are willing to learn.

For all of the millions of deities that man has created what has it accomplished?
War, hate and ignorance to knowledge?
This has the potential to go off topic, so I'd suggest a new thread if you want to take it that way -- there have been a number of others with this thesis. Let me add, though, that such generalizations are gross oversimplifications of religion and its interface with human history. Being religious is not synonymous with having scorn for progress, for modernity, and for science.
 
Pythagorean
 
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2009 10:52 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Pyth,

It seems you're taking a subset of a subset of a subset of a subset of atheists and making a point that is only generalizable to what you have in mind.


I have already pointed out the two camps involved in a fairly clear fashion. The reason I laid out an historical overview is because I noticed that those whom I call political atheists did not seem to be in the posession of knowledge of their own cultural history (which is kind of sad). All you have to do is be read up on the American political and cultural scene. I think that you are hiding behind incoherence here.

Aedes wrote:
If you're going to define atheists as something other than disbelief in a deity, then we don't have our terminology straight and you're running the risk of bleeding your critique of "atheists" over into other definitions. I suggest you choose a new word.


You must have missed my previous posts in this thread. I say that an atheist is a person who does not believe that there is a God. And a 'political atheist' is one who, outside of the political arena, doesn't care. Hence the categorical difference between politics and theology.

If somone wanted to disprove a scientific theory he must become somewhat of a scientist himself. Similarly, if one comes to the conclusion that God does not exist, then one must be somewhat of a theologian. There must be a difference between a revolutionary cry for Socialism and/or despotism on the one hand, and a theological disquisition on the other. Do you know the difference?

Aedes wrote:
Irrespective of era, irrespective of culture, atheism has existed since antiquity.


It is your definition of atheism which is bleeding all over, it seems. Each city in antiquity had its own god or gods. Each place has its religion. And if one dissents publicly in these places then I suspect there would be retribution. The culture of a people is the religion of the people. Only in truly liberal societies might one dissent and belong to a pluralist culture. Even so, the culture of a society is almost universally despotic, in that one does not publicly promote attitudes and behaviour which the locality deems to be politically incorrect. There is always a mind-set at work within any coherent culture. Or else how would it COHERE as a culture at all?

Aedes wrote:
And even if a subset of modern western atheism (which honestly traces itself back to Hume and to utilitarianism) does meet the description in your thesis, you provide ZERO evidence that your conclusions are generalizable.


How can you give the lineage of a phenomenon that you accuse me of providing no evidence for? Aren't you here admitting its existence? You are my evidence Smile

I did a little sketch of history and I gave two names of famous men who have written best-selling books within the past few years. I could do more and will if I get the chance but you can always read American political and cultural magazines to understand what I mean, or talk to someone who does read them.



Aedes wrote:
Furthermore, you fail to acknowledge that people generally develop their moral character LONG before they finalize their beliefs. Beliefs are trendy, but good people and bad people declare themselves as such much earlier.


We've had this discussion before if you remember. People don't develop their moral character until they are adults -I wouldn't rely on a child to give me advice on life or death issues. And even so, the popular culture gets to people at a very young age already.


Aedes wrote:
Finally, please answer me this question in a simple yes / no way:

Is it possible that a self-conscious atheist can be a truly good person?


As I have said again and again, being an atheist does not make one immoral. Why in the world would authentic atheism equate to immorality?

Aedes wrote:
The real mistake is to assume that coincidental views about a) God and b) political issue x are somehow causal, rather than statistically both likely.

In other words, atheists are more likely to be pro-choice and theists more likely to be pro-life. But that doesn't mean that one position leads to the other. All it means is that the way a person evaluates the world very likely independently leads to common conclusions.

And rightly so. If philosophical discourse is contingent upon the consistency of language, then it's a logical sham to go redefining words on your own. It allows you to make up the rules as you go along. That's not how logic works.


As long as there is coherence within a society or a culture there will be mind-sets and world views. Language and history are too powerful for the individuals within a society to become so different from one another that they are unrecognizable to one another. You are hiding behind incoherence again.

Forgetting your history is like trying to forget your parents. However much one may dislike their history or their parents it turns out that their traits and views about man and world are passed on to their off-spring. You can ignore history but you can not escape it. The influence in your case of recent American history and culture is the most glaring example. In my opiinion you are being what you don't know you are being. This was the reason I attempted to lay out a history of the career of modern, Western atheism.

--
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 06:45 am
@Pythagorean,
I was raised largely by a single mother (by which I don't mean she overfed me) who herself was raised as a Catholic. For some reason that I'm sure she now regrets, she refused to influence my religious beliefs. As a consequence, I had no real idea of religion for about 10 years. I did have some exposure though. We gave gifts at the church christmas service every year. At infant school (5-7 yrs old) we sang 'Who Built The Ark' but we always replied 'No-one'. I didn't realise this was a denial of the old testament; I think we just thought it was funny. We also had the children's bible read with us. I was even then an avid consumer of books so I never realised that anyone thought we should believe in this one. In primary school (7-11) we sang The Lords Prayer every day. You might now say: "Surely you would have drawn some religious experience from that?' The reason I didn't is that we also sang The Mull of Myntire, Yellow Submarine and Yesterday every day. If there was a religion going on, Paul McCartney was its figurehead.

My maternal grandfather (by which I don't mean he was effeminate) had, at some point in his life, made the switch from Catholicism to the church of the latter day saints. Oh yes, he was a mormon! He tried to mormonify his whole family and, as a result, two elders from a local mormon church often visited our house. They were very nice. I jumped on one of them and days later discovered he'd died of a heart attack. I was convinced for years I'd killed him. Anyway, one day the less ill-fated of the two asked me if I said my prayers. Remembering the Lord's Prayer, I said: Yes, at school. He told me I should say them every night before bed too, then the elders left. Now, to me, the Lord's Prayer was just the song that we sang at school that was rubbish, so I looked at my mother and she said: Only say them if you want to. Why would I want to? No-one could hear me anyway. It was, in my mind, one of those stupid ideas that grown ups sometimes have.

My first true discovery of religion was during the last term of primary school when a horde from the secondary school came round to teach us a thing or two. My friend had heard that the secondary kids were asking everyone if the were religious and my friend asked me to say that he wasn't. I asked him why and he told me he believed in God. Two important things happened: First, I thought that was just stupid. He may as well have said that he believed in He-Man or Optimus Prime or Luke Skywalker. I honestly had no idea of the difference; but I overrode that somehow because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I figured, well he can believe it if he wants to. And I've held those two views ever since: Religion is stupid; Other people should be free to believe what they want.

Now if the above counts as genuine theological investigation, then genuine theological investigation isn't much to speak of. Like I said, the matter of belief in Optimus Prime should equally count as genuine theological investigation. If it does not then at the age of 10 I was a 'political atheist', though exactly what was political about me I don't know. I was also immoral despite respecting my friend's views in a manner that the religious posters on this thread cannot bear to. More, I was depraved, greedy, gluttonous and sexually licensious, and a Democratic Socialist to boot.

Not bad for a few seconds work at the age of 10, eh?
At secondary school (11-16) I discovered greek mythology. Because it had the word 'mythology' I understood that no-one believed in it, and nor of course did I, however I found it much more interesting a world than the children's bible of years ago. From Greek mythology I discovered many more mythologies and it occured to me that the only difference between mythologies and the stories in the bible was the fact that people still believed in the latter, while people only used to believe in the former. For me, the differentiation was arbitary, and I lumped all such myths together.

It was only around 6th form college (16-18) and beyond that I truly understood why religion was such an important matter. As I became more grown up, I started doing grown up things like reading newspapers and watching the news on TV. I discovered that there were lots of wars going on between different religions. I discovered the reason the IRA hated us so much was because they were Catholic and we were supposedly Protestant. I learned I suppose what you'd call revisionist (for then) history: that the crusades were despicable for instance. I started to see what religion looked like in other countries (you barely notice it at all in ours) and it was HUGE! And they all seemed to hate everyone else. And that sets the tone for pretty much all later exposure to it:hate, violence, stupidity. There were a series of discoveries of priests buggering alter boys or choir boys, so any relation between religion and goodness was pretty much destroyed. I did not need to consider the question of whether God actually existed. There were so many religions and none of them were even convincing enough to beg the question. I've been approached numerous times by God peddlars who seem to get irrationally irrate when their list of reasons for believing in God and Christ gets whittled down to zero by common sense.

I have to say, my original resolve to respect other people's religions is probably eroding as time goes on. While as an atheist (and an evolutionist) I'm somewhat embarrassed by Dawkins, and Hitchens is a total prick anyway, I'm beginning to understand their PoV. Religion may give comfort to individuals, but it is only destructive to society and the world because its representatives, like Pythagorean, are just rabid hatemongers who can't get along with anyone else, who need to make monsters and demons of everyone else until... what? Another war? Is that all religion is capable of?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2009 07:03 am
@Bones-O,
Yes, this has become quite the jumbled mess. Not a single inflaming claim on the OP has been clarified to carry any weight; not surprising. What is, is that it was said at all. To generalize and condemn is short-sighted. Doing this allows much ill. How many times have we seen a tribe, race or ethnicity stereotyped so? Does anyone think this is a good thing? Can anything good come from it?

One simply can't lump economic, political and religious correlates and apply them to collections of individuals; and this is the glaringly-adolescent flaw of the OP. Its beyond my comprehension that we forget, so quickly, what lumping classifications of peoples together can do.

Self-definition of terminology is pointless and destructive. I've never really quite understood the propensity to take a common term; useful and well-defined and try to make it mean something else. Maybe it speaks to emotional overtones or bigotries, or just some measure of illiteracy. Still, there's no reason to do it. We have specific terms and general ones and an endless command of combinations. Why not employ them?

No, this thread is sophomoric, poorly stated, bigoted and warped. I'm embarrassed that it had any interest other than to illustrate just how far humanity has yet to go to respect individuality and reason.

Thanks
 
 

 
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