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Thread: Peaceful Atheist vs. Evil Atheist

  1. #26
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salt View Post
    Honestly, I'm gonna put this novel on hold, there's a lot I need to think about and a lot of questions I need answers to. I don't want to change the character but Atheism is proving to be far more complicated than I thought.
    While I would never try to talk anyone out of familiarizing themselves with the topic they are writing about, I do wonder if you aren't over complicating the subject through your preconceptions. Atheism is not equal to Protestantism or Catholicism or the beliefs of a Sunni Muslim--and it feels like you are trying to make it that.

    Part of the reason for my cavalier response previously is that I found some of the implications of what I thought your question was...a bit unsettling. It seemed to me you were saying that you could easily write your "antagonistic/evil" atheist because clearly thatís the core of atheism:
    Quote Originally Posted by Salt View Post
    the World-Is-Screwed-So-Forget-Everyone-Else type...
    Actually thatís psychopathy (or at least sociopathy). And has no more to do with atheism than it does with Hulkamania.

    But you were having trouble writing your "good/peaceful" atheist because nothing in the tenets of atheism offered any encouragement to be good.

    Hopefully one of the things youíll get from further investigation is that there are no tenets of atheism. There are, however, various schools of philosophical thought that provide all manner of rationale for being "good" and "peaceful". There are also legal and social encouragements aplenty.

    Iím a big fan of Sam Harris. Even when I disagree with him, I find his arguments framed so eloquently that I enjoy hearing what he has to say. And so dreamy...oops, had to wipe the drool off my keyboard (I kid!). His book The Moral Landscape addresses your question quite directly and it isnít as pedantic as a lot of Dawkins (tho it isnít as funny as a lot of Hitchens).
    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGarfinkle View Post
    Another way to say this is that atheism is rarely the root of an atheist's world view and/or moral compass.
    Iím totally with you except for that line...or more specifically the use of the word "rarely". Iíd say never. To employ any other word would require bringing the supernatural back into the equation (e.g., a personís worldview would be founded in his objection to or rejection of religion). Personally, my feelings about the supernatural and the existence (or not) of a supreme being figure not at all in my moral decisions. (And seriously, dude, fifteen hundred posts in 4 months?! Iíve been on here nearly 2 years and just broke a thousand! Again I kid!)
     
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  2. #27
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Salt's Avatar
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    I really need to work on framing my questions better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Salt View Post
    Antagonist because throughout life I've been confronted with the World-Is-Screwed-So-Forget-Everyone-Else type of people (and many of them claimed to believe in God) I understand this point of view quiet well.
    My apologies for anyone who felt as though I meant all Atheist think like this. This type of mindset is in many different people, but I'm sure you guys already know that.
    Thanks for the book suggestions.

  3. #28
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salt View Post
    My apologies for anyone who felt as though I meant all Atheist think like this. This type of mindset is in many different people, but I'm sure you guys already know that.
    I did note the caveat, but you couched it with the word "claim" which sort of implies that they aren't really non-atheist(TM) to your thinking.

    And I didn't mean to accuse you of setting out to insult anyone (or succeeding to insult anyone for that matter). I am a generally optimistic sort of man-baby blithely skipping through the world. I "assumed your good intentions" and appreciated the question and the discussion that arose.
    Last edited by JohnnyGottaKeyboard; 04-29-2012 at 01:57 AM. Reason: spelling
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  4. #29
    practical experience, GTFO
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    Theism is a belief that a god or gods exist. A-theism is the absence of such belief. That's the minimum definition of atheism. Some atheist hold the opposite belief – that there aren't any gods – but most are just indifferent. We are all born atheist and may only become theist later in life when we are able to form beliefs about gods.

  5. #30
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    My first reaction to this thread was quite a negative one. Atheism covers such a wide range of beliefs that I struggled to see the OP's problem. There can be a multitude of good/bad atheists just as there could be a multitude of good/bad religious people. It's a bit like saying "how do I write a story about a bad red-headed person?"

    But I don't like being negative, whether it's in the way I think or the way I talk to people. So pause, rewind, think.

    Many people (although by no means all) come to atheism in a kind of Road to Damascus revelation. But without the shining light, natch. You were probably brought up in a religious environment (insert caveat here), but at some point you arrived at a conclusion that there was no god or gods. With varying degrees of certainty/ doubt.

    The interesting question is what happens next. If there are no gods, what does that mean for me?

    There are probably as many answers to that question are they are people. But for the sake of argument, we can divide the response into two groups.

    The first group say "There is no god. Yippee! That means I can do anything I want without fear of retribution."

    The second group say "There is no god. Ooops. That means that we will need to reinvent some of that useful morality stuff that helps society to tick along quite nicely."

    The first group might decide that self-interest is all that matters. The second group are tending towards humansim. And many many shades of grey/ gray in between.

    I'm an atheist and, for what little it's worth, this is my world view:

    1. I'm fairly certain there is no god. I could tell you why if you are interested, but that's a whole other subject.

    2. I prefer to think that societies invent gods because they fulfil several important societal needs - to understand, to reassure, to govern and to give moral direction.

    3. Those needs are important to society and to individuals. Even though I don't believe in god or gods, I do believe in society. So I will keep to society's laws and act as if I was a religious person, but without the need to believe.

    4. And there is always the possibility that I'm wrong...

  6. #31
    practical experience, FTW meowzbark's Avatar
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    A peace-loving atheist could be either the deadliest type of atheist or the savior of humanity. Many wars are fought over religiousness differences. Your mastermind could either fight to unite the world in spite of religion and bring world peace or instigate wars between religions to and let the religious people destroy themselves.

    However I'm not sure how a teenager would have much impact in the above scenario.

    And to the OP, I don't know of any books published with atheist vs atheist main characters.

  7. #32
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    The first group say "There is no god. Yippee! That means I can do anything I want without fear of retribution."
    Once again, isn't that the definition of a psychopath? Or at the very least a real douche?

    I know several atheists and don't know a single one who would fit that description. And if I ever met someone who fit that description, I certainly wouldn't want to be around them for any length of time.
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  8. #33
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyGottaKeyboard View Post
    Once again, isn't that the definition of a psychopath? Or at the very least a real douche?

    I know several atheists and don't know a single one who would fit that description. And if I ever met someone who fit that description, I certainly wouldn't want to be around them for any length of time.
    As I said, there are lots of shades of grey. I don't personally know any people who are that extreme. But when we are talking fiction we want our characters to stand out a little, no? So we might think Pol Pot, Gordon Gecko, Anders Breivik, Peter Sutcliffe.

    As a father, I simply cannot understand how a parent can abuse or harm their child. It just does not compute. But it happens. Just because I don't know about it, and can't empathise with it, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

    The point is that a lack of religion can lead to people not feeling bound by the constraints that are imposed by religion. It doesn't have to mean that, but it can.

  9. #34
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    As I said, there are lots of shades of grey...<snip>...The point is that a lack of religion can lead to people not feeling bound by the constraints that are imposed by religion. It doesn't have to mean that, but it can.
    I'm cool with what you're saying, altho I'd really like to see statistics that most child abusers are atheists. My own gut feeling is that most criminals generally speaking--I'd guess up to 99% of them even--are religious...Some of them VERY religious.
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  10. #35
    <><'ing for compliments PPartisan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyGottaKeyboard View Post
    I'm cool with what you're saying, altho I'd really like to see statistics that most child abusers are atheists. My own gut feeling is that most criminals generally speaking--I'd guess up to 99% of them even--are religious...Some of them VERY religious.
    Once didn't say that at all

    Also, to the poster who said they'd never read a good atheist vs bad atheist story...well, anytime the pro/antagonist's religion isn't declared, I assume that they're atheist. I'm trying to think of how a good vs. bad atheist story would go now though

    Bad Atheist: I live for me and only me! I'm a nihilist anarchist driven soley by my base desires and demand immediate gratification! Join my side.

    Good Atheist: What side? All your followers are miserable because anyone can do what they want, when they want. Look, all except the total psychopaths have left you to join my society based on laws on reason. And now those psychos you have left are killing each other.

    Bad Atheist: Shit, looks like it's just me then. Guess my options are to get in line or be a king of nothing and noone.
    Last edited by PPartisan; 04-29-2012 at 03:38 PM.
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  11. #36
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyGottaKeyboard View Post
    I'm cool with what you're saying, altho I'd really like to see statistics that most child abusers are atheists. My own gut feeling is that most criminals generally speaking--I'd guess up to 99% of them even--are religious...Some of them VERY religious.
    No, I'm not saying that at all. Atheists commit crimes. Religious people commit crimes. If there are any statistics then I haven't seen them. And don't forget I'm a self-proclaimed atheist too!

    My point is this - most religions come with a set of rules, whether they are set in tablets of stone or written down on parchment, or just generally accepted tenets of faith. When someone steps away from a religion it gives them the opportunity to act outside those rules. It doesn't mean that they are going to break the rules. It certainly doesn't mean that religious people are going to stick by the rules.

    Atheism is simply an absence of religion. In its purest form it is a vacuum. A lack of beliefs. But just about every person who becomes an atheist fills that vacuum with something. Heck, even Gordon Gecko said that "greed is good" which is a belief system of sorts.

  12. #37
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PPartisan View Post
    Once didn't say that at all
    Hmm. When he used the clause "The point is..." I took him at his word.

    Seriously, I never quoted him as saying all child-abusers were atheists. He certainly skirted it, and left himself wide-open for someone (me) to infer it, but he didn't say it and I didn't say he did. My point was...and you'll have to take me at my word...that "Yippee! I can do anything I want without fear of retribution," is more often a psychopathy symptomatic of religious people than atheists.
    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    ...even Gordon Gecko said that "greed is good" which is a belief system of sorts.
    I never saw Wall Street. Was Gordon Gecko an atheist?
    Last edited by JohnnyGottaKeyboard; 04-29-2012 at 03:58 PM. Reason: so as not to double post
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  13. #38
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    Hmm. I think you are reading things that aren't there, if I may say so. Just because the shirt I am wearing is blue, it doesn't mean that all shirts are blue. It doesn't mean that all of my shirts are blue.

    For some people, religion acts as a set of rules. It limits your behaviour and stops you from doing things that you might otherwise do. Take the religion away and, again for some people, you remove those rules. They may then decide that they are free to break those rules. The emphasis is on the words "some" and "may".

    If someone lets their Jewish faith lapse, they may decide to eat a pork chop.

    Not everyone reacts this way.

    My post was in answer to the OP asking about a bad atheist versus a good atheist. So I positted a range of possibilities from the "yippee - all rules are off" to the ultra humanist viewpoint. And many shades of grey in between.

    I emphatically did not say that all atheists are child abusers or that all child abusers are atheists. With the greatest of respect, you need to read what I actually wrote and not what you think I wrote or what you think I should have written. You might think that I left myself wide open for your interpration or that I skirted the issue. The reality is that I said nothing about how many child abusers are atheists. It simply isn't there.

    Whenever the TV networks show "Close Encounters" the police switchboards are jammed with people reporting UFO sightings. It doesn't mean that the UFOs only come out when Close Encounters is on television. It doesn't mean that we become more observant after seeing the film.

    It means that people are seeing things that they want to see.

    I have no idea whether Gordon Gecko was an atheist or not. But he was portrayed as an amoral character, a person with few rules.

    And my shirt is still blue.

  14. #39
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    I'm beginning to feel like I'm trolling or tempting a flame war here, which I emphatically am not. Especially since, in your last message, you pointed out what I found objectionable in your first response.
    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    Hmm. I think you are reading things that aren't there, if I may say so. Just because the shirt I am wearing is blue, it doesn't mean that all shirts are blue. It doesn't mean that all of my shirts are blue.

    For some people, religion acts as a set of rules. It limits your behaviour and stops you from doing things that you might otherwise do. Take the religion away and, again for some people, you remove those rules. They may then decide that they are free to break those rules. The emphasis is on the words "some" and "may".
    Had those "some"s and "may"s been in your original response, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
    My post was in answer to the OP asking about a bad atheist versus a good atheist. So I positted a range of possibilities from the "yippee - all rules are off" to the ultra humanist viewpoint. And many shades of grey in between.

    I emphatically did not say that all atheists are child abusers or that all child abusers are atheists.
    Now this is just plain untrue. You did not EMPHATICALLY say anything. The topic of the conversation was atheists--and more specifically "that a lack of religion can lead to people not feeling bound by the constraints that are imposed by religion." You then start listing people and criminal/immoral acts without any delination that you were not implying they are atheists and/or due to a lack of constraint imposed by religion. Given that we are talking about atheists and the lack of constraints imposed by religion, why would I assume you were offering examples of something else?
    With the greatest of respect, you need to read what I actually wrote and not what you think I wrote or what you think I should have written.
    Here's the crux. I read what you actually wrote. You left out the "some"s and "may"s. You listed amoral characters from history (and fiction) and amoral behaviors in a conversation about atheists and then objected when I pointed out your message could be construed as those lists being examples of the point you were trying to make.
    You might think that I left myself wide open for your interpration or that I skirted the issue. The reality is that I said nothing about how many child abusers are atheists. It simply isn't there.
    That's true--it isn't there. If only it had been...we would not be discussing this now. You offered no qualifiers on how you were even trying to relate the topic of child abusers to the topic at hand (atheists and people no longer constrained by religion). You left that connection for me the reader to complete.
    Whenever the TV networks show "Close Encounters" the police switchboards are jammed with people reporting UFO sightings. It doesn't mean that the UFOs only come out when Close Encounters is on television. It doesn't mean that we become more observant after seeing the film.

    It means that people are seeing things that they want to see.
    Yes, people DO see things that they want to see, or that they expect to see. And when you are unclear, you need to accept the fact that your point might be misconstrued. Personally I never thought you meant to say child abuse was a lack of the constraints imposed by religion. Unfortunately, given that you were talking about the lack of the constraints imposed by religion...That's how it sounded to me.
    I have no idea whether Gordon Gecko was an atheist or not.
    Then like child abusers and Pol Pot I have to wonder why you keep bringing him up.
    But he was portrayed as an amoral character, a person with few rules.
    Like Harry Powell or Torquemada? I can list a bunch of bad characters too. Both of mine were very religious. What does this accomplish? If the characters we list aren't atheists (as I admit and you admit you don't know) what do they have to do with the conversation? It seems logical to me then, since you brought up those people ("Pol Pot, Gordon Gecko, Anders Breivik, Peter Sutcliffe") I should assume you were claiming them as examples of atheists who adopted the "Yahoo! Freed from religious constraints" school of athiesm (which I still argue is mostly a phantom school created by religious people as a bugaboo). In much the same way as when in your next sentence you started talking about child abusers and I still assmued we were talking about atheists who adopted the "Yahoo! Freed from religious constraints" school of athiesm.
    And my shirt is still blue.
    Wash in cold, with like colors. No bleach.
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  15. #40
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    I'm tempted to walk away. I can't see how I can make it much plainer than it is already. But I believe in the patron saint of lost causes, so I'll give it one last go. Then I'll give up. You can have the last word if you want it.

    This is what I actually said:

    The interesting question is what happens next. If there are no gods, what does that mean for me?

    There are probably as many answers to that question are they are people. But for the sake of argument, we can divide the response into two groups.

    The first group say "There is no god. Yippee! That means I can do anything I want without fear of retribution."

    The second group say "There is no god. Ooops. That means that we will need to reinvent some of that useful morality stuff that helps society to tick along quite nicely."

    The first group might decide that self-interest is all that matters. The second group are tending towards humansim. And many many shades of grey/ gray in between.
    You need to notice a few things here. The first is the phrase "for the sake of argument". This is a bit of a clue that we are talking hypothetically. I could have put it into flashing lights or capitals if that would have made it clearer, but I like to treat my readers like adults.

    Then you need to notice the number of times I repeat words like "probably", "might" and "shades of grey". That's another big clue that I am not talking about absolutes. Later on, I use the words "some" and "may". Here I am using other words which denote the same thing.

    Then look at what the words are actually saying. I am not saying that all atheists are in group A. I am not saying that all atheists are in group B. It's a sliding scale, where A is at one end and B is at the other. And there are many many shades of grey in between. But I've already said that several times, haven't I?

    For that matter, I studiously avoid any inference about how many people are in each group. That's not an accident. It's a quite deliberate intent to be even-handed and non-judgmental.

    Then remember the context in which this was written. The OP is looking for help with characterisation. He/ she is not starting a debate about right or wrong. And I am not responding in those terms. When you read what I wrote.

    The next bit you don't understand is this:

    I emphatically did not say that all atheists are child abusers or that all child abusers are atheists.
    And your response was this:

    Now this is just plain untrue. You did not EMPHATICALLY say anything.
    Ahem. I'm not sure how to break this to you gently. There is a huge difference between "I emphatically did not say" and "I did not say emphatically". It's a simple case of English grammar. In the first, the word "emphatically" is attached to the fact that I did not say that thing. Which is undeniably true.

    You have chosen to read it as I did not say it emphatically. In that instance "emphatically" relates to the manner in which it is said. Which is quite, quite different.

    You say I've been unclear. If that is the case, I apologise. It is never my intention to be unclear. But when I look back over my original post, I really struggle to see how I could be any clearer without being accused of using Janet and John language.

    I did not express any opinions whatsoever on the proportion of atheists who might be child abusers. I left it blank, a hole, nada, zilch. If you want to fill it with your own theories and beliefs, that's fine. But those would be your beliefs, not mine.

  16. #41
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salt View Post
    Wow, I thought Atheism was an absence of the belief of God, not belief period. I need to go back and reread all the other threads on the definition of Atheism. Thanks for pointing that out.
    I think you only misunderstood veinglory -- or rather, she was being succinct and that's led to some confusion.

    Atheism does indeed refer to a lack of belief in deities -- including the Abrahamic "God" with a capital G, but including all other gods as well. Atheism does not refer to lack of belief in anything -- that is, Buddhists and Taoists and pantheists often consider themselves to be atheists, but they do have spiritual and even supernatural beliefs.

    Atheism is as much a specific belief as "bald" is a specific hair color. Obviously the word "bald" can't be used to describe the color of one's hair, because it specifically means a lack of hair. In the same way, "atheist" means "lack of belief in gods," not "I believe in X specific crede" or "I live my life in X specific manner."

    Feel free to add me to your list of people to PM with questions. I talk about this stuff a lot on the radio and on podcasts.

    I think your trouble with your characters lies in trying to make their goodness or badness relate directly to their atheism. Instead of trying to make a statement about atheism itself, just try to write two interesting characters. It may not be of interest to your readers at all whether they believe in gods or don't -- or maybe it is of interest. Perhaps at this point you should decide that later. Maybe right now is the right time to focus on the conflict between them, on their differences rather than their similarities, and on where they clash.

  17. #42
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post

    The interesting question is what happens next. If there are no gods, what does that mean for me?

    There are probably as many answers to that question are they are people. But for the sake of argument, we can divide the response into two groups.

    The first group say "There is no god. Yippee! That means I can do anything I want without fear of retribution."

    The second group say "There is no god. Ooops. That means that we will need to reinvent some of that useful morality stuff that helps society to tick along quite nicely."
    Well, there's also a third, very large group that says "Nothing's different; morality was here long before religion and it will be here long after it. It obviously has evolutionary origins and we don't need to invent anything to bolster it. Since nothing's different now that I realize there are not gods, then life carries on as it did before; I'm just a little wiser now, on a personal level."

    I think there are actually FAR more atheists who fit into the third group than in either of the first two.

    Believe me, many of us don't think anything needs to be "invented" to explain morality or to help us choose the right kind of morality. Morality is part of our instinct as social animals. It comes with our DNA. No fabrication required.

  18. #43
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    You can have the last word if you want it.
    No, it's all yours--d'oh!

    Quote Originally Posted by Libbie View Post
    I think there are actually FAR more atheists who fit into the third group than in either of the first two.
    Yes, definitely. And my point, way back in post #32, is I don't believe Group #1 really exists, except as a bugaboo to disparage atheism and as a symptom for clinical diagnosis.
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  19. #44
    <><'ing for compliments PPartisan's Avatar
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    There are certainly psychopathic atheist that have existed, you don't have to reach too far into the history books to find those Johnny (-_-), I don't know what you're saying here.
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  20. #45
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Basically I agree with Libbie. Being atheist is not going to be a root cause of being good or evil except in a very idiosyncratic, specific to that person way. That is because atheism has no doctrine, no leadership and not assertions that would lead to a group mobilization to do anything.

    For the most part the same is true of religion except that religion per se can sometimes lead to a doctrine, a leadership and an assertions that would lead to a group mobilization to do something. a.k.a. someone can really believe God wants them to do something.

    Atheism is generally simply an aspect of the philosophy/doctrine/mobilization, not its source. a.k.a. someone cannot really believe no-God wants them to do something.

  21. #46
    Still confused by shoelaces Once!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libbie View Post
    Believe me, many of us don't think anything needs to be "invented" to explain morality or to help us choose the right kind of morality. Morality is part of our instinct as social animals. It comes with our DNA. No fabrication required.
    Hmmm ... not so sure about that one. As far as I can see, standards of morality evolve and change as civilizations develop. Do animals have a sense of morality? Do we have the same standards that previous generations had? Will future generations share the same values that we do?

    The idea of morality being hard-wired into DNA? Nope, can't get my head around that one. It's a point of view, but I can't see that it is a self-evident fact.

  22. #47
    Who let this guy in...? JohnnyGottaKeyboard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PPartisan View Post
    There are certainly psychopathic atheist that have existed, you don't have to reach too far into the history books to find those Johnny (-_-), I don't know what you're saying here.
    I'm saying exactly what you are saying. Psychopathic atheists exist, but their "Yippee, I can do anything I want without repercussions or consequences" philosophy does not stem from their atheism...This strikes me as manifestly obvious, as the lists of theists with identical personality traits is quite a bit longer (if only because historically the list of theists generally has been quite a bit longer than the list of atheists). The atheism of these psychopaths, when it exists, is more likely symptomatic of their psychopathy.

    As an aside, I would posit that there is a special class of atheism that might transfer through this end of the spectrum--a sort of philosophically adolescent atheist--but I'd characterize even that as a sort of temporary madness that resolves itself over time. A healthy functioning nonpsychopathic human being would inevitably find such a philosophy untenable.
    "C'mon o'er here, sweetums. Get down on your knees and--yeah, just shove them old magazines aside--get down there and lick my--no, them ain't nothing but cans I ain't yet took to the recycling. Here, how's about you put this blindfold on and stop with all the questions?"

    "Oh, my!" said Annamae.
    ~ 50 Shades of Faded Denim

  23. #48
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    Hmmm ... not so sure about that one. As far as I can see, standards of morality evolve and change as civilizations develop.
    Yes, I agree with that. All I was saying was that it's instinct (which evolves as any other feature of a species may evolve) is the root of morality, not religion. Religions' various moralities derive from instinctive morality, not from some source that is outside our biological selves.

    Do animals have a sense of morality?
    Actually, yes. Social animals have social rules and they will, as a group, enforce those rules to ensure what we may call "morality." One example of many is vampire bats. They're a species that depends on their large colonies to survive. Bats who have been fortunate in finding lots of blood to drink will often "donate" part of their night's dinner to less fortunate colony members. Often bats who have full bellies will beg for extra food from their neighbors, but once their deceptions are found out they're ostracized from the colony for short-term "exiles" or permanently if they've offended one too many times. That's maybe the most basic example of animal morality -- don't lie/don't steal/don't take advantage unfairly of the group's welfare -- but there are countless other examples of animal morality in "higher" species, particularly primates and especially great apes. But all social species that have been extensively observed have been noted to reinforce various social rules. What is morality but the pressure of social rules?

    And to get really nit-picky, humans are animals. We have morality. Even if no other animal had morals, we do, and therefore animals can have morals.

    Do we have the same standards that previous generations had? Will future generations share the same values that we do?
    Obviously not.

    The idea of morality being hard-wired into DNA? Nope, can't get my head around that one. It's a point of view, but I can't see that it is a self-evident fact.
    Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my viewpoint, then. I meant that the source of morality -- that is, our social structure -- is in our DNA, not that morality is unchanging. Hell, our DNA isn't unchanging. By morality's source being in our DNA, I meant only that its source isn't external to us -- i.e., its source is not with a deity or with a particular religion or set of beliefs. While any given religion or belief could be judged to be relatively more or less moral than others, given current social norms, none can be said to be the origin of human morality.

    That's all I meant.

  24. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Once! View Post
    Do animals have a sense of morality?
    I've never understood why people believe that social animals don't have a sense of morality.

    A pack of dogs have a set of 'rules' on how to interact, and a set of 'punishments' for those who break the rules. Isn't that morality?

    Arguing that we shouldn't use the word 'morality' in that case because we don't know what is going through the dog's minds (and so we don't know whether it is identical to our perspective) just seems absurd.

    After all, what you found someone torturing a kitten ? Would you accept their argument that the kitten isn't in 'pain' because it is up to you to prove that the feelings that the kitten is experiencing while being set on fire is 100% identical to those a human would experience? Of course not! Any sane person would see right through it ... that the kitty torturer is either a psychopath or just being deliberately obtuse.

    Clearly the kitten is *acting* as if it is in pain, so it is reasonable that they have a comparable (but not identical) experience to ours.

    So why would anyone feel that 'morality' doesn't apply to animals as well? Social animals act as if they have a code of moral conduct .. so why the reluctance to accept that it is a comparable experience to ours?

    Mac

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    BTW - The idea that social and moral rules could be coded into our DNA seems pretty likely.

    If you look at other animals they have extremely complex social rules coded into the DNA. I don't understand how ... but it certainly isn't learned behaviour. Bower Birds have the same ritual even if they've never seen it performed before. Cuckoos have their method of interacting with other birds and egg-laying ... even though fundamentally they can not have learned it from their family.

    Those social rules are incredibly complex and specific .. yet seem to be coded into their DNA.

    How ? I dunno.

    But it would seem absurd to believe that DNA has coded complex 'rules' of social behaviour into every species on the planet .. with the sole exception of humans!

    Mac

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