Author Topic: Holding my tongue /w religious friends...the idea of "worship" (atheists only)  (Read 12840 times)

Beard N Bones

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Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...(for atheists only)
« Reply #200 on: January 03, 2019, 03:15:40 PM »
To kind of "re-set" the thread...

1) NO religionists please. I am not looking to debate with religious folks. There is no point. This thread is only for atheists.

2) Yes, I think the "facts" mentioned in the bible (and other religious texts) are ridiculous, yes. And yes, I think the "lessons" taken from Biblical stories are equally ridiculous.

3) However, even with my position in 2), I save most of my animosity (and it IS animosity) for religionists who try to push their beliefs into the public square. And YES there are plenty of people who do this. Those of you who say, "I don't really encounter this" must not live in the midwestern or southern parts of the US.

4) I guess I'd like to move the discussion to the idea of "worship." Let me explain. As a thought exercise, let's say that we accept every story/event in the Bible, both old and new testament, as having actually occurred with 100% certainty. Given those facts...would you worship the God of the Bible? Why or why not? I guess on one hand, you'd have a God who was proven to have created everything. So you couldn't deny his power. But you'd also have a God who flooded the Earth and killed everyone on it (and all the animals) except for a few people and animals on a boat. And you'd have a God who authorized the Passover, who mind controlled the Pharoah into not letting his chosen people go, just so he could kill children. And so on and so on. So basically I guess although my objections to Christianity start with "its all made up," they also include, "The God of the Bible would not deserve worship even if he was proven to have existed." I mean, why would a deity need/demand worship from tiny specks like us anyway? Isn't that whole idea kind of silly? Wouldn't an all-knowing and all-powerful being actually be...mature? The God of the Bible acts like, well like Trump most of the time. How does that make any sense at all?

@Nick_Miller  You have started an interesting conversation.  What you ask, seems silly to me however.  In summary, it comes across like this:
Hypothetically, would you worship the God of the Bible?  But please, I don't want to hear anyone's opinion that may be contrary to my own ultimate logic and reason.  Only people who agree with what I am saying, please respond.  Do you see why others are questioning your approach?

You are free to respond however you'd like. Disagree with my assessment if you'd like.

But remember, this is not a thread for religionists. I want this thread to stay open as a healthy spot for atheists to discuss stuff, and having religionists invade would destroy that. Even though most folks on this forum are pretty civil with one another, I think a religious debate would test that civility.

Sure.  Here is my assessment. 

You've got an itch you want to scratch - I can't tell if its a problem you have with authority, or a problem you have with other people, or if its an internal conviction/dissonance.  You seem like you want to assert your own authority on everyone that doesn't believe the same thing that you do.  I appreciate your logic and questions.  But I suspect that most civil people will not appreciate your condescending approach/heart/emotion that comes across.   Given that you've shut down discussion unless it lines up with your logic and beliefs, I don't think you'll find consolation in what anyone says here.  That said, I truly hope you find/get whatever your looking for.

Samuel

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Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...(for atheists only)
« Reply #201 on: January 03, 2019, 03:38:56 PM »
I keep coming back to how crazy it is that the people requiring evidence are the minority.
That one's easy.  Religious faith is not about knowing (ie having evidence), it's about believing (ie having faith).  By requiring evidence you are demonstrating that you are operating outside the context of religious belief.  Two completely different systems of thought and nary the twain shall meet.

This. As the saying goes: you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. I've yet to see a believer/non-believer debate that actually found a way to bridge this fundamental divide and make anything resembling progress. They're always frustrating experiences in talking past each other. 

At this point my approach to the overtly religious is basically this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qifUYP234c.

If I'm persuading anyone it's going to be through example.



RetiredAt63

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So this thread is now about atheists mocking Christians.  I am out of here.

You are gone but I will say this anyway.

Atheists and agnostics are not mocking Christians - they are saying they think the idea of a God (or gods) is unfeasible. If they are mocking Christians they would also be mocking the other religions of the Book (Judaism and Islam) and any other religion that has a deity.  They are not doing that, although they are saying (some of them) that they do not see how bits and pieces of the Bible can demand faith (it has to be faith, there is no solid evidence). And they are objecting to having someone else's ideas about religion, and acceptable behaviour based on that religion, shoved down their throats. As pointed out earlier, some religions are moral sets of behaviour without the necessity for a deity.

I'm finding this an interesting thread. Where I live religion is not discussed much, it is seen a something personal.  Even though from the outside religion is somewhat present, since we have public schools and public Catholic schools.  And yes, there is definite debate about public funds going to non-secular schools.

Kris

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So this thread is now about atheists mocking Christians.  I am out of here.


I'm finding this an interesting thread. Where I live religion is not discussed much, it is seen a something personal.  Even though from the outside religion is somewhat present, since we have public schools and public Catholic schools.  And yes, there is definite debate about public funds going to non-secular schools.

Oh, how I wish it was still this way in the US. If it were, this thread basically wouldn't even exist.

BicycleB

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I wish we could make a Wiki post where we could all work together to list, on one post, all of the crimes God commits in the Bible.

Sorta like if you were prosecuting God for crimes against humanity, what would the list include?

I'm not going there myself. But James Morrow did a treatment of the topic you might find interesting. His character Martin Candle presented a summary of that sort in "Blameless in Abaddon." It's the second in a trilogy that started with "Towing Jehovah."

RetiredAt63

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So this thread is now about atheists mocking Christians.  I am out of here.


I'm finding this an interesting thread. Where I live religion is not discussed much, it is seen a something personal.  Even though from the outside religion is somewhat present, since we have public schools and public Catholic schools.  And yes, there is definite debate about public funds going to non-secular schools.

Oh, how I wish it was still this way in the US. If it were, this thread basically wouldn't even exist.

Well, you know Canada is a godless socialist pinko-liberal country, eh?    /s

Cwadda

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Maybe more of a rant, but I am very interested in how other atheists constantly hold their tongues...

I admit that one of the reasons I like this place so much is that I get a vibe that some other folks here aren't all that religious. Why does it matter you ask? Well, it's not that I can't have awesome relationships with some religious folks (I can, as long as they are the "live and let live" types that don't try to inject their religion into gov't), but honestly even with these "nice" religious folks, I still have to hold my tongue.

Things I can't say to my religious friends...

1) You realize that mythologies used to be religions, right?  People used to worship Thor. Now he's an Avenger.

2) You realize there have been like thousands of religions? Doesn't that tell you something?

3) Do you think you'd become a heathen ax murderer if you deconverted today? If not, doesn't that tell you something?

4) When you say that you "talk with God," or that "God talked to me," WTF do you mean? Did you hear an actual voice, or did you think to yourself?

5) If God is all-knowing, meaning he knows every decision we will ever make before we make it, how do we still have free will? We would just be programmed puppets. For example, let's say God talks to me on Saturday. I ask, "God, what tie will I wear tomorrow?" God says, "You will wear a yellow tie." Flash forward to Sunday. I look in my closet and choose a tie out of the dozens I have in all sorts of colors. Can I pick a non-yellow tie? Why or why not?"

6) Have you read the whole Bible? Do you realize there are hundreds of editions and that the text is actually different and that different churches "interpret" the word differently? How can a perfect road map be so vague and nebulous, with so many internal inconsistencies? Doesn't it worry you that you are basing your worldview on this? How did you choose your particular denomination and interpretation?

7) Deep down, do you mostly go to church because "other good people do," and you like the socialization it provides?

8) Do you really think me and my wife, and my little kids are going to burn...forrrrr eternity...in Hell? Seriously? (note: if answer is "yes," friendship is obviously severed..this has actually happened).

9) Do you think there might be a sliiiight chance that religions have been used to keep people in place, explain things that couldn't be understood at the time, placate people from their sometimes miserable lots in life (slaves, second class citizens including women for most of history) by promising a "perfect afterlife,"  and to consolidate power?

10) Name ONE moral virtue taught in the Bible that is exclusive to the Bible. Surely this perfect map has some unique wisdom found nowhere else.


I could go on and on, but I've rambled too much. Do other atheists have similar feelings? Do you use any particular techniques to either bite your tongue, or to gently introduce any of these questions? Are some of you folks in the "I just don't think about religion at all" camp?

I wish I could get there, I really do, but with people constantly injecting religion (almost always Christianity) into school board decisions, and in legislatures, and pretty much trying to make rules based on their specific religious beliefs, I'm not sure how any atheist in America who values reason and science can mentally (or financially) bow out of this conflict.

Hey there! Christian here checking in. Sorry I'm late to the party. You had mentioned this thread wasn't really for Christians, but it sounds like you're genuinely interested and I really respect that. I'll try to answer your questions the best I can!

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1) You realize that mythologies used to be religions, right?  People used to worship Thor. Now he's an Avenger.
Yes, I understand that. I think the key here is that religions develop from stories. And these aren't just any old stories, they're powerful stories which explains why they last through time. I find the stories in the Bible are powerful, and they resonate with me. I.e. When Jesus, "king of the Earth", is born in a feeding trough in a shabby barn, there's a degree of humility involved that is incredibly powerful. And when he comes riding in to greet his followers, he's wearing sandals and a tattered robe, riding a donkey. He's not wearing garments lined with gold, and isn't riding a royal white stallion decorated in jewels. I see Jesus' humbleness as something pretty neat to live by. He seemed like a pretty cool guy.

I suppose it's not much different than popular secular stories. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books and almost became richer than the queen of England! But why were they so popular? Because it's a damned powerful story that resonates with so many people! Harry sets out as a kind but ordinary boy, living under the stairs at his uncle's place in humility. He has no family and no friends when he sets off to confront the world. He goes on to face Voldemort, evil in its purest form (part of which lives within Harry in the form of a Horcrux), overcome death, and to stop the world from falling into darkness.

If you really think about it, the Harry Potter story isn't terribly different than Jesus' story. Same with Tolkien's The Hobbit. The Bible is filled with significant stories and I find them fascinating.

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2) You realize there have been like thousands of religions? Doesn't that tell you something?
What is this supposed to tell me? I subscribe to many ideas in Christianity, they align with how I think I should live my life. It doesn't mean Christianity is "more right" than any other religion, it's just a preference. Again, Christianity isn't necessarily right. But I'm comfortable enough in what I believe, and I challenge my beliefs on a regular basis. Just like responding to this thread. It's good to challenge one's faith and beliefs.

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3) Do you think you'd become a heathen ax murderer if you deconverted today? If not, doesn't that tell you something?
Uhh, I don't think so? What should this tell me though? I don't really see Christianity as the one and only moral compass in existence. But I guess that's a whole other discussion i.e. absolute vs. relative morality.

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4) When you say that you "talk with God," or that "God talked to me," WTF do you mean? Did you hear an actual voice, or did you think to yourself?
Personally speaking I've never heard a voice. Some people claim that stuff goes on, I can't really attest to that. There have been a handful of dreams where I thought I was talking to a powerful being (which I interpreted to be God), that's pretty much it.

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5) If God is all-knowing, meaning he knows every decision we will ever make before we make it, how do we still have free will? We would just be programmed puppets. For example, let's say God talks to me on Saturday. I ask, "God, what tie will I wear tomorrow?" God says, "You will wear a yellow tie." Flash forward to Sunday. I look in my closet and choose a tie out of the dozens I have in all sorts of colors. Can I pick a non-yellow tie? Why or why not?"
I think people do have free will, but I'm not really sure where you were going with your example about the ties. Could you maybe use another one? Are you saying that if people have free will yet God already knows the specific choices someone will make throughout life then, is there, in essence, free will?

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6) Have you read the whole Bible? Do you realize there are hundreds of editions and that the text is actually different and that different churches "interpret" the word differently? How can a perfect road map be so vague and nebulous, with so many internal inconsistencies? Doesn't it worry you that you are basing your worldview on this? How did you choose your particular denomination and interpretation?
I've read the majority of it, mostly the Old Testament but I really need to finish up on the New Testament. I DON'T believe the Bible is a perfect roadmap, and I don't base my entire worldview on the Bible. I don't believe the Bible is meant to take literally. Jesus himself spoke in parables all the time. Even Jesus himself didn't make himself out to be taken literally.

One thing that really pisses me off is how certain denominations of organized Christianity interpret the Bible and make it seem like this is how ALL Christians think. I.e. gay marriage isn't allowed but the Bible also says having long hair was a sin. So how do you cherry pick gay marriage yet the other 500+ laws just happen to fly under the radar? God, that's infuriating.

GTFO of here with not allowing gay marriage, no women allowed in positions of power, and denying basic principles of science. That's not my interpretation at least. I don't believe God/Jesus would say you can believe in me but btw you can't be gay. I follow a denomination that openly allows gay marriage, allows women to be preachers or otherwise hold positions of power, and sings Happy Birthday to Darwin every year. I think evolution of species and geologic history are compatible with religious belief. Guess I'll never understand why a lot of Christians go around saying the world is 4,000-5,000 years old...

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7) Deep down, do you mostly go to church because "other good people do," and you like the socialization it provides?
Of course! I like going to church for socialization! It's a great place for a community of people with like-minded views, and it's an especially nice outlet for charity work (albeit volunteer work without the ulterior motive of converting whoever you're helping to Christianity).

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8) Do you really think me and my wife, and my little kids are going to burn...forrrrr eternity...in Hell? Seriously? (note: if answer is "yes," friendship is obviously severed..this has actually happened).
Hell no! I have no idea what's going to happen to you, but I do wish the best for you and all your loved ones!

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9) Do you think there might be a sliiiight chance that religions have been used to keep people in place, explain things that couldn't be understood at the time, placate people from their sometimes miserable lots in life (slaves, second class citizens including women for most of history) by promising a "perfect afterlife,"  and to consolidate power?
Oh no, there's not even a slight chance. It's factual. People have used religion in terrible ways. It's disgusting and abhorrent. That's another thing that bothers me about certain Christians, especially those in positions of political power. I.e. Denying factual evidence of global climate change yet going on to say "God will take care of the Earth, it's HIS will. We have nothing to worry about!" Then enacting laws and regulations that actively promote the earth's destruction.

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10) Name ONE moral virtue taught in the Bible that is exclusive to the Bible. Surely this perfect map has some unique wisdom found nowhere else.
I don't see the Bible as a perfect map by any means. It really shouldn't be taken literally. I'd say taking everything literally in there would be quite dangerous.



One question I had for you is what do you think about the idea of believing, "in case" there may be a God? I.e. making the better bargain by believing and reaping the rewards rather than not believing and potentially reaping a "worse" benefit such as burning in a fiery hell?


I'd be happy to answer more questions the best I can, just know that I've been pretty busy lately with starting a new full time job, so I might not answer right away. But I'll try!  @Nick_Miller

Kris

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So this thread is now about atheists mocking Christians.  I am out of here.


I'm finding this an interesting thread. Where I live religion is not discussed much, it is seen a something personal.  Even though from the outside religion is somewhat present, since we have public schools and public Catholic schools.  And yes, there is definite debate about public funds going to non-secular schools.

Oh, how I wish it was still this way in the US. If it were, this thread basically wouldn't even exist.

Well, you know Canada is a godless socialist pinko-liberal country, eh?    /s

Yeah, I know.

Wish I lived there.

MrDelane

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what do you think about the idea of believing, "in case" there may be a God? I.e. making the better bargain by believing and reaping the rewards rather than not believing and potentially reaping a "worse" benefit such as burning in a fiery hell?

Well... beliefs aren't something we choose.  Most atheists can't 'choose' to believe in a god anymore than believers can 'choose' to stop believing... or anymore than most of us could suddenly 'choose' that living above our means was a good idea.

But even if we could choose our beliefs... which god should we choose to believe in?  There are thousands upon thousands of religions to choose from.  Which hell are we trying to avoid?  One of the thousands of christian denominations?  Or one of the various muslim hells?  Or some other variant?

Pascal's wager only makes sense if we could willfully choose what we believe and if there were only one belief system to choose from.

(nevermind that is also assumes that a god would somehow not see through our selfish motivations)
« Last Edit: January 03, 2019, 09:52:59 PM by MrDelane »

former player

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Kris

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Honestly, itís disheartening but predictable to see Christians show up in this thread and either get offended or try to argue their case. Ironic, given the title of the post.

Funny how in the Childfree By Choice thread, you donít see parents going in there arguing.

Nick_Miller

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Honestly, itís disheartening but predictable to see Christians show up in this thread and either get offended or try to argue their case. Ironic, given the title of the post.

Funny how in the Childfree By Choice thread, you donít see parents going in there arguing.

Agreed. I feel like I am going above and beyond to avoid a thread meltdown, which is exactly what would happen if religionists keep showing up. Hell, we atheists disagree plenty as it is.

I have absolutely no desire to hurt feelings, but I also have no desire to censor what I say here for fear of hurting feelings, hence the "atheists only" request.

OtherJen

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what do you think about the idea of believing, "in case" there may be a God? I.e. making the better bargain by believing and reaping the rewards rather than not believing and potentially reaping a "worse" benefit such as burning in a fiery hell?

Well... beliefs aren't something we choose.  Most atheists can't 'choose' to believe in a god anymore than believers can 'choose' to stop believing... or anymore than most of us could suddenly 'choose' that living above our means was a good idea.

But even if we could choose our beliefs... which god should we choose to believe in?  There are thousands upon thousands of religions to choose from.  Which hell are we trying to avoid?  One of the thousands of christian denominations?  Or one of the various muslim hells?  Or some other variant?

Pascal's wager only makes sense if we could willfully choose what we believe and if there were only one belief system to choose from.

(nevermind that is also assumes that a god would somehow not see through our selfish motivations)

Thank you. Pascalís wager has always seemed nothing than a ridiculous and self-serving form of hedging oneís bets. I actually find it offensive to anyone with an adult-level intellect. Besides, wouldnít a supposedly omnipotent god spot the scam immediately and find that even more offensive than honest disbelief?

MrDelane

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I shouldn't have posted earlier without having read the whole thread, sorry about that.
But now that I have read the whole thread I feel the need to respond a one idea that kept coming up again and again in various ways (sorry if this pulls the current discussion off track).

Nick asked why we should be expected to respect anyone's belief system, and a few times it was suggested that he was asking the wrong question. Religious beliefs were then equated to any other belief, like political, veganism, consumerism, environmental habits, etc. It was even suggested that the belief itself may not matter, only the intention behind the belief, like making the world a more moral place (which is completely baffling to me, seeing as no one in the history of humanity delights in thinking they are making the world a worse place).

My point is - religious beliefs are entirely different than the other beliefs that have been floated out as equivalencies in that they are not singular beliefs.  They are entire worldviews.  It is from a religious worldview that other beliefs sprout. Religious beliefs are the bedrock of belief which other beliefs must adhere to. So what happens when the foundational belief upon which we rest our entire worldview is based on an unsupportable fiction?

Our beliefs inform our actions, and our actions affect other people and the world around us. Given that, I would much prefer that all the people around me believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.

I definitely don't see any argument to be made for respecting any unsupported belief, religious or otherwise. To be clear, this has nothing to do with the people themselves.  People should obviously always be treated with respect.   But the idea that anyone's belief system should be treated with respect or solemnity based solely on the fact that it is a religious system is absolutely laughable to me, not to mention dangerous.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 07:50:20 AM by MrDelane »

Sailor Sam

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Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...(for atheists only)
« Reply #214 on: January 04, 2019, 07:56:18 AM »
You are equating belief and non-belief as equally valid.

No one is doing this, but you keep repeating it.  You might want to spend some time comprehending what people are saying.  Respecting someone and her beliefs is not the same as holding those beliefs as equally valid.

So when is it okay to not "respect" someone's beliefs? If someone thinks LGBTQ people are abominations, is it okay to not "respect" their beliefs? I have more to follow up with, but I will stop there and let you answer that specific question.

And I can comprehend just fine, pal! I have 3 semesters of law school and a zombie novel under my belt!

(*I am switching to IC Nick Miller mode to make sure we keep some levity as we discuss these issues and all remain friends)

LGBTQ-type person, here. To answer your question: yes, it is correct for someone to think me an abomination, and to respect their belief. Allow me to elaborate.

Every adult has a deeply held theory of what they consider a good, prosperous, helpful, and overall moral society. Many adults fall into basic groups. Liberal. Conservative. Vegan. Christian. Such on, and so forth. What @Kris called a paradigm.

To the fundamentalist Christian, a good, prosperous, helpful, and overall moral society is predicated on the inerrant and infallible word of God, which is communicated through the bible. The bible has several critical passages that say homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, homosexuality is not part of a good, prosperous, helpful, and overall moral society, and must be suppressed. Suppressing homosexuality isn't done from a standpoint of hate; it's done from a standpoint of ensuring society remains moral. In my experience, many fundamentalist show a surprising amount of compassion, totally free of repugnance, towards an individual homosexual. They think my sexual desire an abomination, but believe I have a soul worth saving.

Such people are striving for a moral society, and I can fully respect that. We simply disagree on the definition of moral. Obviously I tend to believe that a good, prosperous, helpful, and overall moral society is based on acceptance of most things that fall under identity politics. I will, in fact, fight the fundamentalist idea of sexuality with every fiber of my being. But I can respect the consistency of thought and their desire for a moral society. It's the same desire I have.

My problem with Christianity is the hypocrisy. They show this level of ostracization toward homosexuals but are perfectly content to be surrounded by people who divorce and remarry (which is no less of a sin). Homosexuality doesn't even violate any of the Ten Commandments. That says to me that their treatment of the LGBT community has very little to do with religion, except that they use religion to justify their actions.

@El Jacinto I fully agree with your arguments. In my experience the number of evangelicals with (for lack of a better term) 'pure' motivations to suppress homosexuality are very rare on the ground. I've only met a few, but I can say the few I have met have been pretty consistent in their thoughts on so called sexual sins. In their view  divorce, adultery, masturbation, and homosexuality are all equal.

From what I've experienced, such 'purists' are maybe 1 in 99. The rest are reacting to what I've personally dubbed the ick factor. They simply don't like how homosexuals, particularly male, moosh their genitals together. It viscerally disgusts them, and they wrap their disgust in the nearest helpful justification they can find. So the people using a religious justification are indeed hypocrites. In fact, their hypocrisy has two elements; first the societal hypocrisy of being a douchenozzel, and second the theistic hypocrisy of adding more weight to certain sins, when in theory it should be the Big Man who judges all sin equally.

My conclusion; there's enough room in the discussion for both of us to be correct.

lemonlyman

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Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...(for atheists only)
« Reply #215 on: January 04, 2019, 08:00:18 AM »
Atheists usually are spreading evolution as fact when it is a theory with no basis, it is a belief system.  Instead of saying life exists and we can't explain how that can be, they concoct a theory out of whole cloth.  The real reason why intelligent design is hated is it means there is an intelligent designer, and we can't have that can we.  That might mean we might have to give an answer to the designer.

There's a good bit of misinformation about what you said.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution

Nick_Miller

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I shouldn't have posted earlier without having read the whole thread, sorry about that.
But now that I have read the whole thread I feel the need to respond a one idea that kept coming up again and again in various ways (sorry if this pulls the current discussion off track).

Nick asked why we should be expected to respect anyone's belief system, and a few times it was suggested that he was asking the wrong question. Religious beliefs were then equated to any other belief, like political, veganism, consumerism, environmental habits, etc. It was even suggested that the belief itself may not matter, only the intention behind the belief, like making the world a more moral place (which is completely baffling to me, seeing as no one in the history of humanity delights in thinking they are making the world a worse place).

My point is - religious beliefs are entirely different than the other beliefs that have been floated out as equivalencies in that they are not singular beliefs.  They are entire worldviews.  It is from a religious worldview that other beliefs sprout. Religious beliefs are the bedrock of belief which other beliefs must adhere to. So what happens when the foundational belief upon which we rest our entire worldview is based on an unsupportable fiction?

Our beliefs inform our actions, and our actions affect other people and the world around us. Given that, I would much prefer that all the people around me believe as many true things and as few false things as possible.

I definitely don't see any argument to be made for respecting any unsupported belief, religious or otherwise. To be clear, this has nothing to do with the people themselves.  People should obviously always be treated with respect.   But the idea that anyone's belief system should be treated with respect or solemnity based solely on the fact that it is a religious system is absolutely laughable to me, not to mention dangerous.

@MrDelane , you said this more eloquently than I could/did.

MrDelane

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MrDelane , you said this more eloquently than I could/did.

Thanks, Nick!

One other point (not to beat this into the ground) is that often times when people express that we should respect other people's beliefs, they seem to be insinuating that one belief is as valid as the next (which is something you referenced earlier).  The difference with religious beliefs is that they we're not talking about a subjective belief where there is no objective right or wrong.  These are not just opinions, these are truth claims on the way the universe functions and there is an actual right answer.

If we're talking about whether or not 'The Last Jedi' was a good movie, sure, I would say that you should probably respect someone else's belief on that point.  It may not be for everyone, some people loved it and others hated it, but in the end whether or not the film is considered 'good' will come down to each specific viewer's personal experience.  Something can be 'good' for one person and 'bad' for another without either of them being wrong. But when we're talking about whether or not human beings have souls and will either suffer eternally or experience infinite paradise after death... that is a claim which is either objectively true or false.  You can have an opinion about how the world functions, but it will either be correct or wrong.  There is no gray area in this and no room for 'one belief is just as valid as another.'

As the saying goes - everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.




Alright, I should get back to work.
:)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 11:44:20 AM by MrDelane »

Sailor Sam

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My point is - religious beliefs are entirely different than the other beliefs that have been floated out as equivalencies in that they are not singular beliefs.  They are entire worldviews.  It is from a religious worldview that other beliefs sprout. Religious beliefs are the bedrock of belief which other beliefs must adhere to. So what happens when the foundational belief upon which we rest our entire worldview is based on an unsupportable fiction?

Excellent summary, @MrDelane! You eloquently and succinctly summed up a concept it would have take me far more far more circumlocution to convey.

Devils advocate, though - I've never seen scientific proof of a soul, but nor have I seen scientific proof people actually possess fundamental human rights. Yet, my insistence that humans DO possess fundamental rights is a world view from which other beliefs sprout. First example I can thing if is my stance on immigration.

Please note, I'm definitively not trying to justify theism, or implying that anyone who believes in human rights must also believe that people have souls. I'm not even arguing against your theory as a whole. It's more that I think all people believe things that cannot be proven, and incorporate those into their views on morality. Perhaps the application of your argument simply needs a second derivative, where the soul-ist is seeking to wreak damage with their unproven ideas, while the fundamental right-ist is seeking to wreak good?

Though, I freely admit my refinement of the theory also runs immediately into the idea that morality is relative. So, I dunno \0/. Anyone interested in discussing?

BicycleB

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when we're talking about whether or not human beings have souls and will either suffer eternally or experience infinite paradise after death... that is a claim which is either objectively true or false. 

So...which is it?


Cwadda

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Honestly, itís disheartening but predictable to see Christians show up in this thread and either get offended or try to argue their case. Ironic, given the title of the post.

Funny how in the Childfree By Choice thread, you donít see parents going in there arguing.

To be fair, I'm neither arguing a case nor taking offense. But I will admit it feels quite nice to separate myself from the more mainstream Christian interpretations these days. Nick Miller sounds genuinely interested (based on the post I read about his interactions with clergy) so I'm happy to have a discussion.

At any rate, I'll see myself out. Take care. Also, @MrDelane nice post about Pascal's wager.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 12:30:38 PM by Cwadda »

FIRE@50

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when we're talking about whether or not human beings have souls and will either suffer eternally or experience infinite paradise after death... that is a claim which is either objectively true or false. 

So...which is it?
false

BicycleB

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when we're talking about whether or not human beings have souls and will either suffer eternally or experience infinite paradise after death... that is a claim which is either objectively true or false. 

So...which is it?
false

I kind of thought that's where @MrDelane was going. So now the fun part. What is the objective evidence for this claim?

gaja

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My point is - religious beliefs are entirely different than the other beliefs that have been floated out as equivalencies in that they are not singular beliefs.  They are entire worldviews.  It is from a religious worldview that other beliefs sprout. Religious beliefs are the bedrock of belief which other beliefs must adhere to. So what happens when the foundational belief upon which we rest our entire worldview is based on an unsupportable fiction?

Excellent summary, @MrDelane! You eloquently and succinctly summed up a concept it would have take me far more far more circumlocution to convey.

Devils advocate, though - I've never seen scientific proof of a soul, but nor have I seen scientific proof people actually possess fundamental human rights. Yet, my insistence that humans DO possess fundamental rights is a world view from which other beliefs sprout. First example I can thing if is my stance on immigration.

Please note, I'm definitively not trying to justify theism, or implying that anyone who believes in human rights must also believe that people have souls. I'm not even arguing against your theory as a whole. It's more that I think all people believe things that cannot be proven, and incorporate those into their views on morality. Perhaps the application of your argument simply needs a second derivative, where the soul-ist is seeking to wreak damage with their unproven ideas, while the fundamental right-ist is seeking to wreak good?

Though, I freely admit my refinement of the theory also runs immediately into the idea that morality is relative. So, I dunno \0/. Anyone interested in discussing?

Humanism is a core part of my world view, with the human rights as a central belief. Science is not about having proof, but about seeking proof. Or rather, to try to disprove your ideas, and be willing to change if you are proven wrong. If someone could prove to me that one of the human rights caused more bad than good, and should be adjusted or changed, I would be willing to listen to their arguments. So in a way, my moral compass is relative. On the other hand: because I have actively tried to challenge my beliefs over many years, I feel confident with the choices I make.

@MrDelane 's post about worldviews was very interesting. I normally mentally disregard people's religious standpoints and look at their actions, since I have always considered believing in a god to be the same as believing in elves; a bit childish but not harmfull in itself. But you do make a compelling case that I will have to think more about.

MrDelane

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when we're talking about whether or not human beings have souls and will either suffer eternally or experience infinite paradise after death... that is a claim which is either objectively true or false. 

So...which is it?
false

I kind of thought that's where @MrDelane was going. So now the fun part. What is the objective evidence for this claim?

I wasn't going there, actually. I was only stating that it is either true or false.
The reality is, in my view, that there is not enough evidence in either direction to hold a belief one way or the other.
There is a bit of a misconception out there with many people that atheist is the claim that no gods exist, when it fact it is generally the rejection of the claim that some gods exist.

In the case of souls, heaven or hell I would say that I do not accept the belief that they exist.
This does not mean that I accept the separate claim that they don't exist.

But my original point was merely that we're talking about things which are objective truth claims which have right or wrong answers (whether we are able to prove those answers or not).

MrDelane

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My point is - religious beliefs are entirely different than the other beliefs that have been floated out as equivalencies in that they are not singular beliefs.  They are entire worldviews.  It is from a religious worldview that other beliefs sprout. Religious beliefs are the bedrock of belief which other beliefs must adhere to. So what happens when the foundational belief upon which we rest our entire worldview is based on an unsupportable fiction?

Excellent summary, @MrDelane! You eloquently and succinctly summed up a concept it would have take me far more far more circumlocution to convey.

Devils advocate, though - I've never seen scientific proof of a soul, but nor have I seen scientific proof people actually possess fundamental human rights. Yet, my insistence that humans DO possess fundamental rights is a world view from which other beliefs sprout. First example I can thing if is my stance on immigration.

Please note, I'm definitively not trying to justify theism, or implying that anyone who believes in human rights must also believe that people have souls. I'm not even arguing against your theory as a whole. It's more that I think all people believe things that cannot be proven, and incorporate those into their views on morality. Perhaps the application of your argument simply needs a second derivative, where the soul-ist is seeking to wreak damage with their unproven ideas, while the fundamental right-ist is seeking to wreak good?

Though, I freely admit my refinement of the theory also runs immediately into the idea that morality is relative. So, I dunno \0/. Anyone interested in discussing?

Having given it a full 30 seconds of thought.... my first reaction would be to say that the existence of souls vs rights differ in a few ways.
The first is about something in the physical world, the second is a philosophical idea.  I assume when you say that 'rights exist' you do not mean it in any corporeal sense.

So while we should be able to find some objective evidence for souls, I'm not sure that the same can ever be found for human rights.
Our view of human rights seem to be an outgrowth of our moral systems, which are based on our worldviews.  Though I guess there is a case to be made that our moral systems may be an outgrowth of our view on human rights.
Regardless, I would lean towards thinking both are a result of our worldviews.

My point is - your view on human rights is most likely a result of your worldview.
Whereas whether or not a soul exists is a truth claim that is either true or false.

Human rights seems to be something we agree upon as a society (though the particulars are debated, obviously), not something that exists objectively in the universe.
For example, Try telling a hungry bear that you have an inalienable right to life.
On the other hand, if you truly do have a soul, nothing that bear can do will change the fact that you have a soul.


Keep in mind... this is all off the top of my head... not something I've given much deep thought to.

EDITED TO ADD:

In terms of believing things which cannot be proven:

There is a difference between believing something which is unfalsifiable, believing something which is unproven, and believing something which is self-evident.
While all three may have no proof, they are on different ground in terms of being justifiably rational beliefs.

I would agree that if you trace back far enough into our beliefs, at some point we all believe things which cannot be proven.
But that doesn't mean that all foundational beliefs are on equal footing epistemologically.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 02:35:31 PM by MrDelane »

MrDelane

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Humanism is a core part of my world view, with the human rights as a central belief. Science is not about having proof, but about seeking proof. Or rather, to try to disprove your ideas, and be willing to change if you are proven wrong. If someone could prove to me that one of the human rights caused more bad than good, and should be adjusted or changed, I would be willing to listen to their arguments. So in a way, my moral compass is relative. On the other hand: because I have actively tried to challenge my beliefs over many years, I feel confident with the choices I make.

I assume you're familiar with Sam Harris' writing on morality?  If not, you might be interested in it.
I don't agree with everything he says, but he has some interesting thoughts on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj9oB4zpHww

BicycleB

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@MrDelane, good posts above. I now realize I misunderstood what you meant. Thanks.

MrDelane

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@MrDelane, good posts above. I now realize I misunderstood what you meant. Thanks.

No problem.  That said, it would be disingenuous for me to pretend that I'm 100% on the fence between the two beliefs.  Like with many things, beliefs aren't all or none, they are on a spectrum of levels of confidence.  So I would say that my belief in a heaven/hell is somewhere on par with my belief in elves (which were brought up earlier in this thread).  I cannot claim to know they do not exist, nor do I have evidence to prove they do not exist, but I definitely lean towards believing they do not exist by virtue of the lack of evidence to the contrary.  But that isn't enough to really make a claim one way or the other... I know that (only mentioning it for the sake of intellectual honesty).

By the way, unless some other city has stolen our town's unofficial motto, I think you and I may live in the same spot.

mrmoonymartian

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@MrDelane, good posts above. I now realize I misunderstood what you meant. Thanks.

No problem.  That said, it would be disingenuous for me to pretend that I'm 100% on the fence between the two beliefs.  Like with many things, beliefs aren't all or none, they are on a spectrum of levels of confidence.  So I would say that my belief in a heaven/hell is somewhere on par with my belief in elves (which were brought up earlier in this thread).  I cannot claim to know they do not exist, nor do I have evidence to prove they do not exist, but I definitely lean towards believing they do not exist by virtue of the lack of evidence to the contrary.  But that isn't enough to really make a claim one way or the other... I know that (only mentioning it for the sake of intellectual honesty).

By the way, unless some other city has stolen our town's unofficial motto, I think you and I may live in the same spot.
Russell's teapot.

MrDelane

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Russell's teapot.

Given that heaven and hell are unfalsifiable ... then yeah, pretty much.
Here I was writing whole sentences.... I could have just said two words.
:)

Good call.

shelivesthedream

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Honestly, itís disheartening but predictable to see Christians show up in this thread and either get offended or try to argue their case. Ironic, given the title of the post.

Funny how in the Childfree By Choice thread, you donít see parents going in there arguing.

I guess I'll bow out. Sorry for derailing! Its been a good discussion for me, though - thanks.

Bean05

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ďSo which is it? True or false?Ē......this is the basis of the misunderstanding that causes so much confusion. NO ONE can tell you that; they can only share their opinion. Religion is faith-based.....therefore someone chooses to have faith, or they do not have faith. I call myself agnostic just because of that. I canít KNOW that religious beliefs arenít true, nor can a person of faith KNOW they are true. To me this precludes an argument, and itís to each their own.

Overall, I find religion and debates on it a waste of time. I avoid overly religious people as friends, and my overly religious family really doesnít push it on me. I support my parentís involvement in their church, because itís so meaningful to them. I know a lot of smart people that have faith, and that keeps me from being condescending in my lack of believing what they do. And when a religious person blesses me or says theyíll pray for me, I donít get upset, because I know thatís an ultimate expression of their caring.

One interesting wrinkle, I will say that this holiday season, I found myself thinking I need to have a Yule celebration rather than Christmas celebration. This year I did not have an angel or star at the top of my tree.....
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 06:13:37 PM by Bean05 »

MrDelane

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“So which is it? True or false?”......this is the basis of the misunderstanding that causes so much confusion. NO ONE can tell you that; they can only share their opinion. Religion is faith-based.....therefore someone chooses to have faith, or they do not have faith. I call myself agnostic just because of that. I can’t KNOW that religious beliefs aren’t true, nor can a person of faith KNOW they are true. To me this precludes an argument, and it’s to each their own.

Somehow at some point people came to treat 'agnostic' as if it were on a spectrum between 'atheist' and 'theist.'  But, as you pointed out yourself, agnostic speaks to knowledge.  But theist and atheist speak to belief.  Knowledge and belief, while related, are two different things.

There is often a misconception (or assumption) that atheists claim that no god exists, but that isn't necessarily the case.  While some atheists may in fact claim that no gods exist, most seem to merely reject the claim that gods exist.  This is a very significant difference.

Keep in mind that a theist is not necessarily someone who claims to know that gods exist.  A theist is simply someone who believes that gods exist.  An atheist is a non-theist, or simply someone who does not believe that gods exist (not necessarily believing that no gods exist).  Neither of these says anything about what either claims to know.

My point is, there is really no middle ground between the two labels (unless we alter the definitions of the terms).  Everyone is either a theist or atheist, because the terms refer to the acceptance or rejection of a single claim.

A common analogy is a gumball machine with an unknown number of gumballs.  We know that the number of gumballs are either odd or even, there is no other option. If I were to ask you if you believe the number of gumballs is odd you would probably say you had no idea, so you cannot claim that you believe they are odd.  But that doesn't mean that you automatically believe they are even.  Not believing they are odd does not force you to accept the contrary claim (that they are even).  But for each individual claim ("they are odd" or "they are even") you either accept or reject it.

And so everyone is either an 'oddist' or an 'a-oddist.'
Being an 'a-oddist' does not mean you are automatically an 'evenist.'

In the same way, you either believe gods exist or you do not believe gods exist.
Whether or not you believe that no gods exist is another issue.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not. Whether or not we know a specific claim that we believe is a whole other thing.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 09:14:34 PM by MrDelane »

PKFFW

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I have absolutely no desire to hurt feelings, but I also have no desire to censor what I say here for fear of hurting feelings, hence the "atheists only" request.
That seems like an odd statement considering the thread is specifically about censoring oneself.

former player

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ďSo which is it? True or false?Ē......this is the basis of the misunderstanding that causes so much confusion. NO ONE can tell you that; they can only share their opinion. Religion is faith-based.....therefore someone chooses to have faith, or they do not have faith. I call myself agnostic just because of that. I canít KNOW that religious beliefs arenít true, nor can a person of faith KNOW they are true. To me this precludes an argument, and itís to each their own.

Somehow at some point people came to treat 'agnostic' as if it were on a spectrum between 'atheist' and 'theist.'  But, as you pointed out yourself, agnostic speaks to knowledge.  But theist and atheist speak to belief.  Knowledge and belief, while related, are two different things.

There is often a misconception (or assumption) that atheists claim that no god exists, but that isn't necessarily the case.  While some atheists may in fact claim that no gods exist, most seem to merely reject the claim that gods exist.  This is a very significant difference.

Keep in mind that a theist is not necessarily someone who claims to know that gods exist.  A theist is simply someone who believes that gods exist.  An atheist is a non-theist, or simply someone who does not believe that gods exist (not necessarily believing that no gods exist).  Neither of these says anything about what either claims to know.

My point is, there is really no middle ground between the two labels (unless we alter the definitions of the terms).  Everyone is either a theist or atheist, because the terms refer to the acceptance or rejection of a single claim.

A common analogy is a gumball machine with an unknown number of gumballs.  We know that the number of gumballs are either odd or even, there is no other option. If I were to ask you if you believe the number of gumballs is odd you would probably say you had no idea, so you cannot claim that you believe they are odd.  But that doesn't mean that you automatically believe they are even.  Not believing they are odd does not force you to accept the contrary claim (that they are even).  But for each individual claim ("they are odd" or "they are even") you either accept or reject it.

And so everyone is either an 'oddist' or an 'a-oddist.'
Being an 'a-oddist' does not mean you are automatically an 'evenist.'

In the same way, you either believe gods exist or you do not believe gods exist.
Whether or not you believe that no gods exist is another issue.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not. Whether or not we know a specific claim that we believe is a whole other thing.


The first definition of "atheist" that google came up with for me this morning (call me lazy, can't be bothered to get out my OED) is "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods."   So according to that definition your proposition doesn't work.

PKFFW

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But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

Bean05

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ďSo which is it? True or false?Ē......this is the basis of the misunderstanding that causes so much confusion. NO ONE can tell you that; they can only share their opinion. Religion is faith-based.....therefore someone chooses to have faith, or they do not have faith. I call myself agnostic just because of that. I canít KNOW that religious beliefs arenít true, nor can a person of faith KNOW they are true. To me this precludes an argument, and itís to each their own.

Somehow at some point people came to treat 'agnostic' as if it were on a spectrum between 'atheist' and 'theist.'  But, as you pointed out yourself, agnostic speaks to knowledge.  But theist and atheist speak to belief.  Knowledge and belief, while related, are two different things.

There is often a misconception (or assumption) that atheists claim that no god exists, but that isn't necessarily the case.  While some atheists may in fact claim that no gods exist, most seem to merely reject the claim that gods exist.  This is a very significant difference.

Keep in mind that a theist is not necessarily someone who claims to know that gods exist.  A theist is simply someone who believes that gods exist.  An atheist is a non-theist, or simply someone who does not believe that gods exist (not necessarily believing that no gods exist).  Neither of these says anything about what either claims to know.

My point is, there is really no middle ground between the two labels (unless we alter the definitions of the terms).  Everyone is either a theist or atheist, because the terms refer to the acceptance or rejection of a single claim.

A common analogy is a gumball machine with an unknown number of gumballs.  We know that the number of gumballs are either odd or even, there is no other option. If I were to ask you if you believe the number of gumballs is odd you would probably say you had no idea, so you cannot claim that you believe they are odd.  But that doesn't mean that you automatically believe they are even.  Not believing they are odd does not force you to accept the contrary claim (that they are even).  But for each individual claim ("they are odd" or "they are even") you either accept or reject it.

And so everyone is either an 'oddist' or an 'a-oddist.'
Being an 'a-oddist' does not mean you are automatically an 'evenist.'

In the same way, you either believe gods exist or you do not believe gods exist.
Whether or not you believe that no gods exist is another issue.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not. Whether or not we know a specific claim that we believe is a whole other thing.

Iím not sure I quite agree. With gum balls you and I both agree they are there and odd/even are our two choices. With religion, Iím not sure there are Ďgod isí or Ďgod isnítí-only choices. Because once we start talking higher intelligent power that has created the universe (and we are but a tiny part- interesting how traditional religion puts US right at the heart of everything, most unique, most important, etc), anyway, it brings a ton of other unknowable questions to light. And I think that is a good expression of why I express I am agnostic - simply the comfort with myself that I find there are things that are unknowable.

Back to your original question, I donít find the need to press people about their beliefs, but I do get tired of prayers before meetings of charitable organizations etc. I just work to find patience there.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 08:13:41 AM by Bean05 »

DreamFIRE

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ďSo which is it? True or false?Ē......this is the basis of the misunderstanding that causes so much confusion. NO ONE can tell you that; they can only share their opinion. Religion is faith-based.....therefore someone chooses to have faith, or they do not have faith. I call myself agnostic just because of that. I canít KNOW that religious beliefs arenít true, nor can a person of faith KNOW they are true. To me this precludes an argument, and itís to each their own.

Somehow at some point people came to treat 'agnostic' as if it were on a spectrum between 'atheist' and 'theist.'  But, as you pointed out yourself, agnostic speaks to knowledge.  But theist and atheist speak to belief.  Knowledge and belief, while related, are two different things.

There is often a misconception (or assumption) that atheists claim that no god exists, but that isn't necessarily the case.  While some atheists may in fact claim that no gods exist, most seem to merely reject the claim that gods exist.  This is a very significant difference.

Keep in mind that a theist is not necessarily someone who claims to know that gods exist.  A theist is simply someone who believes that gods exist.  An atheist is a non-theist, or simply someone who does not believe that gods exist (not necessarily believing that no gods exist).  Neither of these says anything about what either claims to know.

My point is, there is really no middle ground between the two labels (unless we alter the definitions of the terms).  Everyone is either a theist or atheist, because the terms refer to the acceptance or rejection of a single claim.

A common analogy is a gumball machine with an unknown number of gumballs.  We know that the number of gumballs are either odd or even, there is no other option. If I were to ask you if you believe the number of gumballs is odd you would probably say you had no idea, so you cannot claim that you believe they are odd.  But that doesn't mean that you automatically believe they are even.  Not believing they are odd does not force you to accept the contrary claim (that they are even).  But for each individual claim ("they are odd" or "they are even") you either accept or reject it.

And so everyone is either an 'oddist' or an 'a-oddist.'
Being an 'a-oddist' does not mean you are automatically an 'evenist.'

In the same way, you either believe gods exist or you do not believe gods exist.
Whether or not you believe that no gods exist is another issue.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not. Whether or not we know a specific claim that we believe is a whole other thing.


The first definition of "atheist" that google came up with for me this morning (call me lazy, can't be bothered to get out my OED) is "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods."   So according to that definition your proposition doesn't work.

Yeah, that's true.  It doesn't work.  Also, regarding agnostic:

Agnostic:  broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

RetiredAt63

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Agnostic:  broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

Yes, that's me, an agnostic. I like the quote from earlier:
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

Do gods exist?  I have no idea.  Doesn't affect my life either way.  Just keep a strong separation between church/temple/mosque and state and I will be fine.


Nick_Miller

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I have absolutely no desire to hurt feelings, but I also have no desire to censor what I say here for fear of hurting feelings, hence the "atheists only" request.
That seems like an odd statement considering the thread is specifically about censoring oneself.

Perhaps I don't understand what you're saying?

Yes, the OP talks about how I censor myself on a daily basis in RL. The whole point of this thread is to allow myself and others of similar (not necessarily identical) mindsets to express our thoughts without worrying about hurting the feelings of genuinely nice people who happen to have beliefs we do not share. So I guess I don't understand what your comment above meant.

PKFFW

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Perhaps I don't understand what you're saying?

Yes, the OP talks about how I censor myself on a daily basis in RL. The whole point of this thread is to allow myself and others of similar (not necessarily identical) mindsets to express our thoughts without worrying about hurting the feelings of genuinely nice people who happen to have beliefs we do not share. So I guess I don't understand what your comment above meant.
Apologies for my misunderstanding then as I must have missed the intent.  I thought from the initial line of your OP it was about discussing ways to hold your tongue around religious people.

MrDelane

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ďSo which is it? True or false?Ē......this is the basis of the misunderstanding that causes so much confusion. NO ONE can tell you that; they can only share their opinion. Religion is faith-based.....therefore someone chooses to have faith, or they do not have faith. I call myself agnostic just because of that. I canít KNOW that religious beliefs arenít true, nor can a person of faith KNOW they are true. To me this precludes an argument, and itís to each their own.

Somehow at some point people came to treat 'agnostic' as if it were on a spectrum between 'atheist' and 'theist.'  But, as you pointed out yourself, agnostic speaks to knowledge.  But theist and atheist speak to belief.  Knowledge and belief, while related, are two different things.

There is often a misconception (or assumption) that atheists claim that no god exists, but that isn't necessarily the case.  While some atheists may in fact claim that no gods exist, most seem to merely reject the claim that gods exist.  This is a very significant difference.

Keep in mind that a theist is not necessarily someone who claims to know that gods exist.  A theist is simply someone who believes that gods exist.  An atheist is a non-theist, or simply someone who does not believe that gods exist (not necessarily believing that no gods exist).  Neither of these says anything about what either claims to know.

My point is, there is really no middle ground between the two labels (unless we alter the definitions of the terms).  Everyone is either a theist or atheist, because the terms refer to the acceptance or rejection of a single claim.

A common analogy is a gumball machine with an unknown number of gumballs.  We know that the number of gumballs are either odd or even, there is no other option. If I were to ask you if you believe the number of gumballs is odd you would probably say you had no idea, so you cannot claim that you believe they are odd.  But that doesn't mean that you automatically believe they are even.  Not believing they are odd does not force you to accept the contrary claim (that they are even).  But for each individual claim ("they are odd" or "they are even") you either accept or reject it.

And so everyone is either an 'oddist' or an 'a-oddist.'
Being an 'a-oddist' does not mean you are automatically an 'evenist.'

In the same way, you either believe gods exist or you do not believe gods exist.
Whether or not you believe that no gods exist is another issue.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not. Whether or not we know a specific claim that we believe is a whole other thing.


The first definition of "atheist" that google came up with for me this morning (call me lazy, can't be bothered to get out my OED) is "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods."   So according to that definition your proposition doesn't work.

I guess I don't follow what you're saying - because that is exactly what I was proposing.

"A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of god or gods."
That is not the same as "a person who believes that no god or gods exist," (which is what many seem to assume 'atheist' means).

That was the main point I was making - disbelieving a claim is not the same as believing it's opposite claim.

MrDelane

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But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

That's great, I wasn't familiar with that quote.
I don't feel like it contradicts anything I was saying... but I like it.

But again, if the proposition is "A god exists" you can either believe that or not.
If you reject the proposition that a god exists it does not mean you accept the proposition that no god exists, those are two different propositions.  As the quote above states, you always have the option of having no opinion.  You would simply reject both propositions.

But each proposition is either accepted or rejected, there is no middle ground.
You either believe there are an odd number of gumballs or you do not believe there are an odd number of gumballs.  Whether or not you believe there are an even number is a separate proposition.


EDITED TO ADD:
Another great Marcus Aurelius quote: “Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both.”
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 03:30:05 PM by MrDelane »

PKFFW

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But each proposition is either accepted or rejected, there is no middle ground.
You either believe there are an odd number of gumballs or you do not believe there are an odd number of gumballs.  Whether or not you believe there are an even number is a separate proposition.river both died and the same thing happened to both.Ē[/i]
Upon closer reading, I see the confusion.  You are using accepting/rejecting as synonymous with belief/non-belief.  I don't think this is quite accurate and I was responding to your original statement that you either accept or reject (rather than believe or non-believe) each individual claim.

A proposition can be accepted for a variety of reasons without believing it to be true.  A proposition can be believed to be true but rejected for a variety of reasons too.  A classic example of the latter would be a jury rejecting the proposition that the defendant committed the crime, even if they believed it to be true, because the proposition had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Further, when it comes to accepting or rejecting a proposition there is a third option.  That of neither accepting or rejecting it.

Eg: you propose there is an odd number of gumballs in the jar.  That proposition simply is.  I do not have to accept or reject it.  I can simply hold no opinion on the proposition at all.

Belief on the other hand is different.  You are correct that belief is a duality.  There is either belief or absence of belief.

Nick_Miller

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Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

MrDelane

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But each proposition is either accepted or rejected, there is no middle ground.
You either believe there are an odd number of gumballs or you do not believe there are an odd number of gumballs.  Whether or not you believe there are an even number is a separate proposition.[/i]
Upon closer reading, I see the confusion.  You are using accepting/rejecting as synonymous with belief/non-belief.  I don't think this is quite accurate and I was responding to your original statement that you either accept or reject (rather than believe or non-believe) each individual claim.

I may have used sloppy language.  Perhaps I should have said each proposition is either accepted or not accepted.

Quote
A proposition can be accepted for a variety of reasons without believing it to be true.  A proposition can be believed to be true but rejected for a variety of reasons too.  A classic example of the latter would be a jury rejecting the proposition that the defendant committed the crime, even if they believed it to be true, because the proposition had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

I'm going to have to give some thought to the idea of whether or not a proposition can be believed while not being accepted (or not believed while being accepted).  Honestly, I don't see how that would be.  I think you're right when you said that I was using acceptance or rejection of a proposition as synonymous with belief and non-belief.  I honestly don't see what it would mean to accept or not accept a proposition outside of 'belief' as a frame of reference. It doesn't seem to make much sense.

In your courtroom analogy, those seem like two propositions with different standards to me.  One can accept the proposition that the defendant is guilty while simultaneously not accepting the proposition that the defendant should be convicted.  Each proposition brings with it a burden of proof, and if not met then they will not be accepted.  The difference with the conviction of a defendant is that the burden of proof is not up to the individual but laid out by the court.  Once the standard for acceptance is changed, you're talking about two different propositions.

I guess one gray area is that accepting a proposition in and off itself says nothing about how confident we may be in that claim (just like not accepting says nothing about how confident we are).  We believe things once we reach a certain level of confidence in the claim and become convinced.  Perhaps if we changed the language to "become convinced" or "not convinced" it would sound less problematic?

Quote
Further, when it comes to accepting or rejecting a proposition there is a third option.  That of neither accepting or rejecting it.

Eg: you propose there is an odd number of gumballs in the jar.  That proposition simply is.  I do not have to accept or reject it.  I can simply hold no opinion on the proposition at all.

I respectfully disagree, and I'm happy to let it go after this because I'm fairly certain I'm being way too pedantic and everyone else has lost interest in this (but just to be clear I find this deeply fascinating and appreciate that your thoughtful reply is making me reexamine what I wrote).

"There is an odd number of gumballs in the jar" is a truth claim.  You either believe that or you do not.  If you 'hold no opinion' on that proposition then you are not accepting it by default, because at that point 'PKFFW does not believe there are an odd number of gumballs' is a true statement (or, to my earlier point, "PKFFW is not convinced there are an odd number of gumballs"). 

Again, not believing that claim does not mean that you believe there is an even number of gumballs (or, not being convinced they are odd does not mean you are convinced they are even).  It also does not mean you have ruled out the possibility of them being odd, it simply means you are currently not convinced that the number of gumballs is odd and therefore do not accept the claim "there is an odd number of gumballs in the jar."

But you either believe it is odd or you do not believe it is odd.
You are either convinced it is odd or you are not convinced it is odd.
I still don't see a middle ground, so long as we are dealing with only one proposition at a time.

EDITED TO ADD:
I think the illusion of a 'middle ground' comes up when someone does not accept (or rejects) two opposing propositions.  For example, when someone does not accept both "there is an odd number of gumballs" and "there is an even number of gumballs." They are not convinced of (or do not believe) either proposition, and because they are polar opposite claims it creates the illusion that there is a third option between acceptance and non-acceptance.  But when dealing with only one proposition at a time the possibility of a third option seems impossible.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 08:18:40 AM by MrDelane »

OtherJen

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Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

Maybe. Or maybe many of us have simply gravitated toward other groups that donít revolve around faith (or the lack thereof). When I was still trying to force myself to be a believer (after decades of cultural brainwashing), I sang in church choirs. In retrospect, I was at a parish with a lot of excellent musicians (and still remain in contact with many of them), and the opportunity to make music with them was the final tie holding me in the church for the last couple of years. Now I sing with secular choral groups, which meets my need for socialization and community.

Philociraptor

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Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

Never been part of a group, but a lack of belief is a pretty weak tie. A meeting of Catholics, even outside of Mass, will be guaranteed to have shared experiences, ideas, etc. It's hard to form a coherent group when the only thing you have in common is something as small as a lack of belief in something, since that doesn't necessarily come with matching experiences or preferences.

MrDelane

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Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

There is a very large and active atheist community where i live.  That said, I've tried to go to more than one meeting of a group here and gave up after the second time.  The first time I literally sat there without anyone making any effort to introduce themselves to new people (I wound up talking to a woman and guy who were both there for the first time as well while the more established members spent time talking to eachother).  The second time I made more of an effort to meet people but simply didn't hit it off with anyone.

I don't think it really has to do with whether or not we're as tribalistic as theists.  The thing that seems to make it so tough is that there is nothing that we all share, aside for a lack of a belief.  But you can't really build a community on that.  It's like trying to build a community of people who are all not lawyers.  What do they really have in common other than a single negative trait?

I wish there were a clearer solution for it... no idea what it might be though.