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kristie911
05-28-2008, 12:03 PM
Why is it always automatically assumed that as an atheist I cannot live a good life? I get so fed up with people assuming I have no morals or that I have no sense of right and wrong because I don't believe in a God or, more specifically, their God.

I have always tried to respect others beliefs even when they don't respect mine and I have a healthy respect for the religious people I know. I think it's wonderful that their religion brings them comfort...I just don't buy into it. Yet I know very few people that can respect my non-believing.

This is not meant to be a "I hate disrespectful Christians" discussion because that couldn't be further from the truth. I guess I'm just a little fed up with not getting respect in return for the respect I give others simply because I don't go to church and don't share their faith.

I have morals...contrary to popular belief.

Marian Perera
05-28-2008, 01:00 PM
Some people have decided in advance that all or most atheists are nasty, unpleasant and less moral than theists.

I steer clear of those people in real life and have started to avoid them on the internet. Life is too short and precious to waste trying to reason with someone who is determined to dislike atheists.

Mumut
05-28-2008, 01:01 PM
I get a similar response when I say I'm a practising agnostic. I seriously look at other religions but I've not found one yet that I believe God would observe and say, 'That is right. I like that.'

Sarpedon
05-28-2008, 05:51 PM
Most people believe that ethical absolutes come from God, ergo, one who does not believe in God must not believe in the ethical absolutes. Thats the primary reason. There are a variety of problems with this belief, but that seems to be what they believe.

Secondly, it is common for cult leaders to attempt to isolate their followers from non-members, hence their fondness for compounds in Texas. Amongst more mainstream religions, this tendancy has declined, but continues to have vestiges. Many people in mainstream religions would have no problem with their children hanging out with members of similar mainstream religions, would balk at having them hang out with an atheist or a very different religious person. Hence the perhaps subconcious discouragement given. "They just aren't our kind of people." sort of thing. Many religious groups are not open to the idea that people should be exposed to rival belief systems, hence laws for blasphemy, punishments for apostasy, Fair Gaming, and a variety of other discouragements.

Jersey Chick
05-28-2008, 06:18 PM
I think there's a sense of fear that you might be right and there goes their whole belief system. Anyone who has grappled with their faith has to consider that there might not be a higher power - and how scary would that be to those who are absolutely convinced otherwise.

Maryn
05-28-2008, 06:23 PM
I hear you, Kristie. It appalls me to realize the vast number of people who believe that atheists have no ethics or morals. Does that mean it's safe to conclude that those people only refrain from infidelity, assault, murder, and such only because their religion forbids it? Of course not.

People can reach valid conclusions about what's right and wrong without it being part of religious teachings. Philosophy has a huge sub-area devoted to how we humans do that. Most scholars believe the desire for self-preservation comes first, then the desire to do no harm to other beings capable of feeling. God's got nothing to do with it, although many of the world's religions teach that one should not harm others.

Maryn, who rarely dips a toe into this pool

Round John Virgin
05-28-2008, 07:21 PM
Through the ages, governments and religions have worked together to use fear as a means of keeping people in line. In the early days of European nation building, kings were appointed by popes. Every so often, governments and dominant churches would change on the heels of a religious war. But after the dust settled, the collusive link remained.

It's still there today, regardless of the platitutes we mumble about separation of church and state. If you think one's religious beliefs have little to do with the way our leaders get to be our leaders, watch the running cable news hoo-ha surrounding Obama, McCain, and their spiritual mentors-advisors-supporters. (Poor old Barack gets the double whammy: At the same time he tries to prove he's the right flavor of Christian, his detractors use his own middle name to suggest that he could actually be--gasp!--a Muslim! Can you imagine what would happen if he put the issue to rest by exercising both his freedom of speech and the ultimate freedom of religion? I renounce Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In fact, I renounce Christianity--and all other faiths to boot!)

It's too bad that freedom of religion has never quite included freedom from religion. For what it's worth, I consider myself more of an agnostic than an atheist. And I think my moral compass works pretty well. But I'll also admit to having an ace up my sleeve: As one who was christened Catholic and raised Methodist, I know that the worst I can do is purgatory.

III
05-28-2008, 07:43 PM
I find this to be kind of shocking, actually. As a Christian, I can't imagine saying something like "you're an atheist so you have no morals or ethics". It's just a stupid thing to say and patently untrue. You can give 'em a dose of Romans 2:14-15 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%202:14-15;&version=31;) next time, Kristie. Hopefully you're not feeling that same attitude around AW. I think you're a groovy chick, fwiw.

StephanieFox
05-28-2008, 08:04 PM
Unfortunately, many people believe that morals/ethics come from [their] god. If god isn't there to threaten or bribe them, people won't do the right thing.

It's the basic idea that people are basically bad unless forced to be good. That's why a lot (but not all) of Christians talk a lot about being 'tempted' and how god leads them from temptation and blesses them when they avoid evil inclinations.

I think that many atheists believe that people are basically good and honest. We don't feel that we need a big eye in the sky to do good.

I've had Christians ask me that since I don't believe in God, how come I am helpful. friendly, honest, loyal (etc.) and they seem mystified when I explain that ethical actions and alturism are good for the species. Anyway, doing good is it's own reward.

Angelinity
05-28-2008, 08:18 PM
Why does atheist = bad person?

...coz Good People go to Heaven... and Atheists can't?

Jersey Chick
05-28-2008, 08:18 PM
My mother had one of the best theories I've ever heard:

Who is truly the more Christian? The guy who goes to church every Sunday and every Holy Day, who spouts from the Bible whenever possible, and screws over everyone he meets, cheats on his wife, beats his kids -

or -

The hermit who lives in a cave and is at peace with nature and all that is around him, but chooses not to believe in a god?

Hmm...


(disclaimer - this isn't about Christians, per se, but that was mom's example :))

KikiteNeko
05-28-2008, 08:22 PM
I was brought up as a Christian, which, when I was little, seemed really simple. The problem with things like that is that you grow to see how the world really works, and the simple basis for Christianity crumbles.

I'm not an athiest. I believe in God and I pray, but I disagree with many of the Christian teachings upon which I was brought up. I think it's wrong to judge or imply anything about the character of someone I don't know, and I disagree with those self-righteous panphlet-wielders who will try to save your soul so they can go to bed or report back to their pastor feeling better about themselves.

Whatever you believe is your right and even if I didn't agree with what you believed in, I would support your right to believe in it.

KikiteNeko
05-28-2008, 08:26 PM
I've not found one yet that I believe God would observe and say, 'That is right. I like that.'


Can't find what doesn't exist. Religion is man-made and that's the problem.

Kalyke
05-28-2008, 08:36 PM
I live in the "Bible Belt." Generally, people who I have told about my reluctance to believe a collection of 4 thousand year old stories, act as though some terrible crisis led me to not believing, and if they were nice enough, I would believe again. That I never believed in the first place is never entertained by them. They think I must have believed at some time because it is in the fiber of the soul to believe. They simply believe this because it is what they were told to believe early on. I tell them that was probably their mother talking to them when they were infants. They don't believe that. I tell them that the stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Horeb contained the "Code of Hamaraubi," plagiarized nearly to the letter. They don't believe it. I tell them that Noah was originally a chapter in the Babylonian Epic Gilgamesh... they don't believe me. Earlier civilizations informed the creation of their religions as their religions inform both present law and philosophy. I think that ethics can be done without an omnipotent, jealous, and not-to-ethical lightening bolt throwing character. Ethics are about behavior, not punishment. People who believe in deities seem to believe in doing things that they only have to pay for after death. Take Heaven out of the equation, and there is no final reward. I think that people need heaven. They need to think their loved one is at peace and in a better place after they die. This is psychological only, and for the benefit of the living, however it does sooth the pain. I think a lot of people would simply fold if they did not have that hope for the (after death) future. This simply says what an awful world we live in.
Doing things out of fear of retaliation or punishment rather than a belief that good things are good, and heaven or hell is what you make of the world yourself. I stop at stop lights because I know that traffic must be regulated, not because I think the cops will catch me. I mow the grass because it is neighborly and makes for a clean looking environment not because I can be fined 100 dollars to have the city come out and do it. I do not hit the neighbors loud children not because I can be put in jail, but because hitting kids makes them violent and it hurts them. I don't rape, murder, rob, burn down buildings because I would not like that stuff to happen to me. To me, this stuff comes naturally. I do not feel I need to believe that God made these rules. They are simply natural rules that anyone in his right mind would adhere to for the sake of harmony and community.

Marian Perera
05-28-2008, 08:42 PM
My mother had one of the best theories I've ever heard:

My family's answer to that would be that the guy who goes to church every Sunday and reads the bible every day is the more Christian. Even if he cheats on his wife and beats his kids, at least he's accepted that Jesus died for his sins, so that puts him ahead of the hermit. He's already saved - he just needs a little extra niceness, that's all.

This is one reason I'm no longer in touch with the family.

kristie911
05-28-2008, 09:01 PM
I think there's a sense of fear that you might be right and there goes their whole belief system. Anyone who has grappled with their faith has to consider that there might not be a higher power - and how scary would that be to those who are absolutely convinced otherwise.

I never thought of it this way...interesting theory and probably more right than most would think.


I find this to be kind of shocking, actually. As a Christian, I can't imagine saying something like "you're an atheist so you have no morals or ethics". It's just a stupid thing to say and patently untrue. You can give 'em a dose of Romans 2:14-15 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%202:14-15;&version=31;) next time, Kristie. Hopefully you're not feeling that same attitude around AW.

No, I don't get that attitude here at all, which is really nice. It's why I came here to ask the question...because I felt I would get good answers. And I have.

I get the attitude from someone at work mostly and I've had it. He pretends he's perfect and is always talking about his religion and condeming me for not believing. It's so judgemental and condesending it strikes me as very un-Christian.

And thanks for that link, Jay. :)



...coz Good People go to Heaven... and Atheists can't?

Hmmmm...good thing I don't believe in Heaven or Hell. I'm not being flip, I like your answer because I can see how someone who does believe in those things would see it.


My mother had one of the best theories I've ever heard:

Who is truly the more Christian? The guy who goes to church every Sunday and every Holy Day, who spouts from the Bible whenever possible, and screws over everyone he meets, cheats on his wife, beats his kids -

or -

The hermit who lives in a cave and is at peace with nature and all that is around him, but chooses not to believe in a god?

Hmm...


Your mom sounds pretty smart. :D

Angelinity
05-28-2008, 09:08 PM
Hmmmm...good thing I don't believe in Heaven or Hell. I'm not being flip, I like your answer because I can see how someone who does believe in those things would see it.



...Er, you were being serious! Sorry, I was being flip. Dry joke, see? Atheists can't go to Heaven... coz how can you go to a place you don't believe exists... something like that :Shrug:

kristie911
05-28-2008, 09:12 PM
I assumed you were being sarcastic but actually I can see how someone would use it as an argument. Not a great one...but an argument nonetheless.

Actually, my mom told me once she hated that I wouldn't go to Heaven. She didn't understand that as an atheist, that wasn't really a problem for me.

Unless, of course, I'm totally wrong (which I allow that I could be)...but I'll worry about it when I'm dead. :)

DeleyanLee
05-28-2008, 09:39 PM
...coz Good People go to Heaven... and Atheists can't?

I've heard this as a serious response when I've been told that I have to be a horrible person because I'm not a Christian. I've had one relative tell me that I shouldn't be allowed to work around children because I'm not a Christian because I'm such a horrible, evil person. *sigh*

I just hope that she's happy in her little world, just as I'm happy in mine.


an omnipotent, jealous, and not-to-ethical lightening bolt throwing character.

Zeus--right? ;)

Angelinity
05-28-2008, 10:14 PM
Sorry all... no sarcasm intended there... my odd sense on humor seems to be getting in the way.


I've heard this as a serious response when I've been told that I have to be a horrible person because I'm not a Christian. I've had one relative tell me that I shouldn't be allowed to work around children because I'm not a Christian because I'm such a horrible, evil person. *sigh*

Don't sweat it, people tend to judge other people based on their own convictions, and the stronger they believe, the swifter and harder they judge. Let it slide and move on.

Jersey Chick
05-29-2008, 04:04 AM
My in-laws are very religious people. And that's cool for them. I'm agnostic, which drives them nuts. They continue to call me an athiest - which I can't even spell tonight - and I have to explain the difference, yadda yadda yadda.

Anyhoo - long story short - I respect their beliefs, even if I don't entirely share them, but they have a tendancy to bug me about church, etc. I married in a church, had my kids baptized, and all, but I did it for my husband (who is not quite so religious since hooking up with the heathen here ;)). What I want to know is why is it that I can respect their beliefs, but they can't respect mine?

That's how I am about any religion, or lack of one - I don't care if you worship rocks and trees, or nothing at all. It's cool. I respect you. You respect me. It's all good. Too bad more people don't follow that.

And yes, my mom is pretty smart - she does have me for a daughter, after all ;)

Don Allen
05-29-2008, 04:22 AM
I hate self righteous zealots that use church as a measuring stick where you store up credits for God. My only problem with atheism is that i'm not sure it exsists, and I quote the famous line, "no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole" which as a lot of validity. It may not be God, it may be a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of booze, the love of a family member, but I do think that in times of great emotional crisis, all humans tend to put faith in something.. Having said that I don't hate goddless commies at all, ( you know I'm teasing Kristie....lol

Just Jack
05-29-2008, 04:45 AM
I have the same problem...

I gave this same issue a lot of thought, and I think that people are simply scared of the un-known.

When I tell people that I am an atheist, they are normally shocked, like I am evil incarnate.

But when your raised as a religious person, and brought up that god makes and accounts for everything, you have an expectation that people around you will adhere to the same set of beliefs you do, or at least similar. (I could be wrong, and I know this theory doeson't account for everyone)

So when someone is different form the herd, they are rejected.
They ole' black sheep treatment.

I get it from family alot, they always say stuff like, "Ill pray extra hard for you on Sunday..."

geez

veinglory
05-29-2008, 05:08 AM
I am glad I don't have that problem. Or people thinking crap like that know better than to tell me about it ;)

C.bronco
05-29-2008, 05:10 AM
I don't think faith is a virtue; I think it's a gift. In the end, how we treat eachother is what matters most, no matter what we believe.

DeleyanLee
05-29-2008, 05:12 AM
Don't sweat it, people tend to judge other people based on their own convictions, and the stronger they believe, the swifter and harder they judge. Let it slide and move on.

Oh, no problems with me. LOL! Such judgments are totally around THEM, and have nothing to do with me. After all, to work with children, I had to get a certain level of clearances with various law enforcements agencies. I've got PROOF that I'm a good person. More than they can say. LOL!

William Haskins
05-29-2008, 05:16 AM
Hopefully you're not feeling that same attitude around AW.

it happens occasionally, but it also happens that some atheists have unfairly generalized views of religious folks, too.

Zoombie
05-29-2008, 05:33 AM
I once had someone shout, in a kind of laughing way, "How can you be so upbeat without heaven!"

I confound him, I do! Confound him with my mind powwwwwers.

Seriously: I have no idea why people generalize things about other people.

Ruv Draba
05-29-2008, 05:43 AM
Why is it always automatically assumed that as an atheist I cannot live a good life?
It isn't always, but it's often enough to be noticable.

For all that theology tries to elevate human spirit, theists are just people with all the usual human foibles. Some need to judge others; some need to feel superior and exclusive. (See III (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=9185)'s post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2376523&postcount=1)to this hilarious link (http://www.jesuspeople.tv/) for an example) Some feel threatened by views that negate or challenge their own. This accounts for what I see at the individual level.

What I see at the political level is frequently outright discriminatory. The reason is simple: Instutional theism is based on moral and spiritual claims to authority over peoples' lives and cultures. With atheism comes a conceptual challenge to the basis of that authority (and many atheists object to theists telling them how to live). Institutional theism must attack atheism to preserve its claim to power - and the more attached it is to its power, the more it must attack. Unfortunately that forces atheism to attack back to defend its claims to independent and evidence-based thought. Peaceful coexistence is possible ideologically (as evidenced in these forums for example, or the several excellent friendships I have with some strong theists), but politically it's hard to imagine.

On a personal basis I can understand and forgive the occasional slights on my character, intelligence, education I get from individual theists - and the more frequent condescension. On a political basis I can't; much of what is said about atheists by theists is just pure propaganda, ignorance, deceit and (as I consider it) vilification. We know from experience with racial and religious vilification that there are no effective counter-arguments to such nonsense. The only effective answer is to smack the offending propagandists in da face till they stop talkin crap. :tongue

benbradley
05-29-2008, 07:38 AM
These feelings can come from the highest office in the land (just reading the link titles tells the story - this is from Bush Sr., not the current "W"):
http://www.google.com/search?q=President+Bush+atheist

I find this to be kind of shocking, actually. As a Christian, I can't imagine saying something like "you're an atheist so you have no morals or ethics". It's just a stupid thing to say and patently untrue. You can give 'em a dose of Romans 2:14-15 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%202:14-15;&version=31;) next time, Kristie. Hopefully you're not feeling that same attitude around AW. I think you're a groovy chick, fwiw.
My experience with AW has been 99.4 percent good. There was one thread where I mentioned something related, I don't believe in the existence of souls, and someone said those who don't believe in the soul are psychopaths (or was it sociopaths? It was a negative label anyway)... but that was many months back, not sure I could even find the thread now.

Oh, no problems with me. LOL! Such judgments are totally around THEM, and have nothing to do with me. After all, to work with children, I had to get a certain level of clearances with various law enforcements agencies. I've got PROOF that I'm a good person. More than they can say. LOL!
I'm guessing you didn't mention your atheism to every person you were in contact with in regards to your background checks...:D

Zoombie
05-29-2008, 08:53 AM
That Bush quote always irritates me beyond belief.

Dario D.
05-29-2008, 09:03 AM
Why is it always automatically assumed that as an atheist I cannot live a good life? I get so fed up with people assuming I have no morals or that I have no sense of right and wrong because I don't believe in a God or, more specifically, their God.

I have always tried to respect others beliefs even when they don't respect mine and I have a healthy respect for the religious people I know. I think it's wonderful that their religion brings them comfort...I just don't buy into it. Yet I know very few people that can respect my non-believing.

Sorry about that. Indeed, all too many religion-oriented people (though *certainly* not all) have a disposition toward thinking that non-believers must either 1) be immoral/sinful and corrupted in general, or 2) be against religious people (you know... on "the other team" that they always exchange mud-pies with).

In particular, religious people who watch lots of TV, or follow newspapers/blogs/forums are usually more suspicious of atheists being on "the other team" (always attacking religion), because of all the flack those atheists fling their way. (not to say religious people don't fling it too, and in droves)

...but it also has a lot to do with where religious people stand, such as when talking about Catholic Christians vs. Protestant Christians. Catholics have the original belief, well over 5,000 years in practice (beginning from the original Jews), that any person can get to heaven, no matter what he believes, as long as he is good. Then, in the 15th century, this new belief popped up with the Protestant Reformation that said all atheists are going to Hell. Thus, you are likely to find those two halves of Christianity seeing atheists in a hugely different light.

Catholics can smile at atheists and just think to themselves, "God knows what he's doing. Maybe I'll see this person in Heaven one day." But Protestants are more inclined to start up a preach-storm, and make you feel (whether they intend it or not) inferior, or just generally inadequate because of the "fact" that you aren't standing in good shoes.

Of course, they usually aren't trying to get that message across, but what else can you make of it when someone won't leave you alone over "how bad and sinful your life is in the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ", and how you're on the highway to Hell if you don't convert? It can make you feel... disrespected as a person, especially if you ARE good.

That's not everyone, though. Mileage will vary from person to person, and from religion to religion, but a great deal of it also has to do with what religion it is, and how they teach people to behave.

Melisande
05-29-2008, 09:30 PM
My only problem with atheism is that i'm not sure it exsists, and I quote the famous line, "no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole" which as a lot of validity. It may not be God, it may be a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of booze, the love of a family member, but I do think that in times of great emotional crisis, all humans tend to put faith in something..

I can only speak for myself when I say that I think you're wrong. I honestly think that non-believers (not all of them, of course) are more aware of the choices they make, as they have to face up to the consequesnces of them, because there is no-one else to blame for one's own poor judgements, and no-where else to turn for help other than one self. As a result; ending up in a 'fox hole', might lead to wanting to kick one's own butt, but not trying to bribe oneself out of it.

Great emotional crisis, as hard as they are, must be faced head on (again, speaking only for myself) and though they suck, they must be dealt with accordingly; with anger, despair or what have you, but without trying to blame, or judge or bribe 'higher' forces. Sometimes it really does help with a smoke, or a drink, but that is not equal to putting faith in their ability to solve the problem. It's simply a release, before one goes on.

Higgins
05-29-2008, 09:40 PM
I hate self righteous zealots that use church as a measuring stick where you store up credits for God. My only problem with atheism is that i'm not sure it exsists, and I quote the famous line, "no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole" which as a lot of validity. It may not be God, it may be a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of booze, the love of a family member, but I do think that in times of great emotional crisis, all humans tend to put faith in something.. Having said that I don't hate goddless commies at all, ( you know I'm teasing Kristie....lol

My only problem with atheism is that it seems trivial. The non-existence of any God that anyone would seriously want to have hanging around seems like a such an obvious fact about the universe that it doesn't strike me as worthy of much comment...after all the bit about no atheists in fox holes (aside from not being particularly confirmed by any systematic observation) suggests that God sort of likes forcing people to serve in armies and being subjected to potentially lethal projectile weapons to the point that they are terrified beyond reason. Clearly a God who needs a good punch in the nose and not somebody who should be out monkeying with inhabited parts of the universe.

Toothpaste
05-29-2008, 09:52 PM
While the saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" has a grain of truth to it definitely, it is by no means grounded in any kind of research or fact. And while some might say that there are "no atheists in foxholes", I would be willing to bet there are quite a few religious people who find themselves in horrific situations questioning what kind of god would allow something to happen, and thus His existence (in fact I actually know people who have done just that). I would venture to say just as many religious people turn to atheism in such circumstances as atheists turn to religion.

As to what Higgins is saying of the triviality of Atheism. I get your point, but I think as with any belief system, there are people who just live their lives by what they believe and others who use their beliefs as a platform. Some more fundamental atheists see the grief that religion causes the world and wish to see it changed. I am of course referring to religious wars, and fundamental sects who use religion as a scape goat (I do also understand the joy and comfort religion brings people, as well as the care giving and charity work it has provided. I also understand that there have been some pretty crappy things started by atheists as well). Nonetheless, while it may seem trivial to you because it is so obvious it shouldn't be a big deal, there are those who truly want to change the world and for them it is not quite as insignificant.

Mr. Fix
05-29-2008, 09:57 PM
This is my belief. I associate with people based on their actions, not their beliefs. I would tend to associate with like minded people, but not to the point of exclusion or establishing segregation of 'other points of view.' As a Christian I have several friends who are admitted agnostics or athiests and none of them offend me. We do however have some heated discussions, but I like that about them, they can debate well! (And what good intellectual doesn't enjoy a healthy debate?) It's a shame that even to this day of extensive availability to all sorts of information we are all still held back by the few, very vocal, ignorant hate-baiters. You are not a bad person for your beliefs. Different as they may be from mine this doesn't change your ability to help your fellow human - and that's you gift to humanity - your alive to possibly be there for someone in need. And that's all any of us can do - just be there for each other when we're in need. God refers to it as Charity, and many "religious fanatics" could use more of this little quality.;)

Your OK in my books Kristie, don't let them bait you down to their level, rise above 'em.

mscelina
05-29-2008, 10:00 PM
My only problem with atheism is that it seems trivial. The non-existence of any God that anyone would seriously want to have hanging around seems like a such an obvious fact about the universe that it doesn't strike me as worthy of much comment...after all the bit about no atheists in fox holes (aside from not being particularly confirmed by any systematic observation) suggests that God sort of likes forcing people to serve in armies and being subjected to potentially lethal projectile weapons to the point that they are terrified beyond reason. Clearly a God who needs a good punch in the nose and not somebody who should be out monkeying with inhabited parts of the universe.

A person's religious convictions--or lack of them--is a personal decision and should not be considered 'trivial' by anyone. Period.

Angelinity
05-29-2008, 10:00 PM
the problem with organized religion -- and strict followers -- (as I see it) as opposed to people who choose not to adhere to organized religion dogma (and I can see fast-believers raising an eyebrow at the term 'dogma') is that organized religion, by whatever name and creed, gives its disciples the 101 of life.

now, many may not think this a problem, rather the contrary?

I DO believe it is a problem. why?

because when one is given the entire prospect on a platter -- rules, penalties, fringe benefits etc., one is inclined to accept everything.

what is wrong with that, might be asked? (or not?)

i know full well what is wrong with that. i lived it, others dear to me lives it and billions live it now.

does anyone else think there is something wrong with accepting the rules?

Higgins
05-29-2008, 10:10 PM
A person's religious convictions--or lack of them--is a personal decision and should not be considered 'trivial' by anyone. Period.

You may consider mine trivial. Question Mark?

Mr. Fix
05-29-2008, 10:11 PM
the problem with organized religion -- and strict followers -- (as I see it) as opposed to people who choose not to adhere to organized religion dogma (and I can see fast-believers raising an eyebrow at the term 'dogma') is that organized religion, by whatever name and creed, gives its disciples the 101 of life.

now, many may not think this a problem, rather the contrary?

I DO believe it is a problem. why?

because when one is given the entire prospect on a platter -- rules, penalties, fringe benefits etc., one is inclined to accept everything.

what is wrong with that, might be asked? (or not?)

i know full well what is wrong with that. i lived it, others dear to me lives it and billions live it now.

does anyone else think there is something wrong with accepting the rules?

Some rules are OK. Otherwise we have anarchy and survival of the meanest. I like some structure to civilization. We must be weary of the tyrants as well as the upsurpers. :guns: (Trust, but verify. A great man once said.)

mscelina
05-29-2008, 10:11 PM
You may consider mine trivial. Question Mark?

I don't. Your beliefs are yours entirely. Why would I think them trivial?

Higgins
05-29-2008, 10:47 PM
I don't. Your beliefs are yours entirely. Why would I think them trivial?

I think they are trivial. Why are my "beliefs" mine entirely and why would that make them particularly non-trivial?

Angelinity
05-29-2008, 10:57 PM
I think they are trivial. Why are my "beliefs" mine entirely and why would that make them particularly non-trivial?

they are yours alone coz they stemmed (i hope) from your inner-sanctum idea-baking unique self. or did you copy and paste?

they are (hopefully) not trivial coz why would you want to acknowledge and live out your life according to... triviality? or maybe you would... would you?

wait. define 'trivial'.

Toothpaste
05-29-2008, 11:11 PM
Just what I was wondering. For the record this is what trivial according to my dictionary means:

trivial |ˈtrivēəl|
adjective
of little value or importance
• (of a person) concerned only with trifling or unimportant things.

Zoombie
05-30-2008, 12:14 AM
What Mr. Fix said, but with robots and some words changed from "atheist" to "Christian" and "Christian" to "atheist."

Shadow_Ferret
05-30-2008, 12:37 AM
Why is it always automatically assumed that as an atheist I cannot live a good life? I get so fed up with people assuming I have no morals or that I have no sense of right and wrong because I don't believe in a God or, more specifically, their God.
It's jealousy, because we can live without guilt and indulge ourselves in ways they can't. We can have one-night stands, or excessive binge drinking, or covet our neighbor's stuff.

If they do that stuff they have to go to confession. We just have another beer.

:D

Higgins
05-30-2008, 12:56 AM
they are yours alone coz they stemmed (i hope) from your inner-sanctum idea-baking unique self. or did you copy and paste?

they are (hopefully) not trivial coz why would you want to acknowledge and live out your life according to... triviality? or maybe you would... would you?

wait. define 'trivial'.


Just what I was wondering. For the record this is what trivial according to my dictionary means:

trivial |ˈtrivēəl|
adjective
of little value or importance
(of a person) concerned only with trifling or unimportant things.

I don't want to joustle anyone's simple, child-like faith in the infinite value of every single person's totally unique mental universe, but the mere fact that we can use what appears to be the same language suggests that some significant "cutting and pasting" is going on somewhere in the ole inner sanctum...if you know what I mean.

Which is fine with me and I don't mind if there is a lot of trivia involved in one's personal formulations.

Higgins
05-30-2008, 01:15 AM
While the saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" has a grain of truth to it definitely, it is by no means grounded in any kind of research or fact. And while some might say that there are "no atheists in foxholes", I would be willing to bet there are quite a few religious people who find themselves in horrific situations questioning what kind of god would allow something to happen, and thus His existence (in fact I actually know people who have done just that). I would venture to say just as many religious people turn to atheism in such circumstances as atheists turn to religion.

As to what Higgins is saying of the triviality of Atheism. I get your point, but I think as with any belief system, there are people who just live their lives by what they believe and others who use their beliefs as a platform. Some more fundamental atheists see the grief that religion causes the world and wish to see it changed. I am of course referring to religious wars, and fundamental sects who use religion as a scape goat (I do also understand the joy and comfort religion brings people, as well as the care giving and charity work it has provided. I also understand that there have been some pretty crappy things started by atheists as well). Nonetheless, while it may seem trivial to you because it is so obvious it shouldn't be a big deal, there are those who truly want to change the world and for them it is not quite as insignificant.

Sure...but it seems to me it might be more constructive to address what is problematic and destructive about religion in religious terms. The atheistic gesture of making a big deal about the non-existence of a non-existent being...doesn't really address the problems that religion throws into relief...

Ruv Draba
05-30-2008, 02:41 AM
My only problem with atheism is that it seems trivial.Materialism can certainly seem trivial, but I think that has little to do with religious affiliation. The father of one of the friends of my youth was a pastor - and also sold household products via a party-plan scheme. He had immensely materialist ambitions and seemed to have fit his religion to them -- in much the way that you see modern televangelists do. And as you might expect, those who attended his church did the same. (To my mind, anyone who seeks to profit from those to whom they're providing moral and spiritual counselling needs a very serious course in ethics.)

One thing that's quite clear if you look outside the dogma of any single religion is that peoples of any faith (or no religious faith) are quite adept at constructing meaning and purpose in their lives and environs -- when they seek to. They're also very facile at becoming obsessed with ego-driven trivia, regardless of their dogma, or giving up on a particular purpose and meaning as banal.

I've expressed the idea in this forum before: you don't need to believe in superstitious myths to be a spiritual person.

From an aesthetic perspective, I also consider popular modern ideas of 'heaven' and 'hell' to be pretty banal (although I like some of the older versions for mythic purposes). I also consider the idea that all existence was created for a single humanocentric purpose to be simultaneously ill-defined, counter-factual and absurdly trivial.

Ruv Draba
05-30-2008, 02:54 AM
While the saying "there are no atheists in foxholes" has a grain of truth to it definitely, it is by no means grounded in any kind of research or fact.It's rhetoric, but I think it's based on the following core of truth, Toothy: that fear creates superstition.

We know this to be true, and from an humanitarian perspective this rhetorical statement offers us a strong argument that we shouldn't subject people to terror when they're trying to form life-strategies and philosophies.

(Of course the people who do that most often are religious sales-staff, military dictators and insurance sellers...:tongue)

Toothpaste
05-30-2008, 06:53 AM
Yes I did understand that. But my point was that I know of people who have gone the other direction in such extreme situations. From religion to atheism, as well as atheism to religion.

StoryG27
05-30-2008, 07:30 AM
Why is it always automatically assumed that as an atheist I cannot live a good life?
About four years ago, I would have read this and thought, "People don't think that, at least not in general." Now I'd simply shrug and say, "Dunno."

So what happened four years ago: I moved from Colorado to Tennessee. It's different here. I'm not insulting it, it is just very different from what I grew up with. I don't even know what I am, not an atheist, I guess, but I can't be classified in a religion either. Since I moved out here, I've had three total strangers ask me if I've been saved. The first time, I was standing in the grocery checkout line eating Oreos (yes, I paid for them later) and a little old lady tapped me on the arm and said, "Have you been saved?" Trying to keep cookie crumbs from tumbling out of my very full mouth, I replied, "From what?" I honestly had NO CLUE what she was talking about.

People have to make sense of the world around them. To do that, they have to put people, things, and experiences in categories. We all do it, whether we admit it or not, it's just strange what characteristics get lumped into what categories for some people. Wires had to be crossed somewhere for some strange perceptions to take such strong roots. We all need reinforcement for behaving the way we do, people just put different labels and ideas on that too. The human mind is such a curious, curious little gadget.

Pat~
05-30-2008, 07:44 AM
I also consider the idea that all existence was created for a single humanocentric purpose to be simultaneously ill-defined, counter-factual and absurdly trivial.

That's a mouthful, but if I'm understanding what you mean by "humanocentric" (human centered?), I'd have to agree with this 100%. (Though I am a Christian.)

Zoombie
05-30-2008, 07:51 AM
a little old lady tapped me on the arm and said, "Have you been saved?" Trying to keep cookie crumbs from tumbling out of my very full mouth, I replied, "From what?" I honestly had NO CLUE what she was talking about.



The correct answer is, "You hear the voices too!"

StoryG27
05-30-2008, 07:53 AM
Ha! Yes, if I'd been thinking, that would have been a great reply.

Zoombie
05-30-2008, 08:44 AM
It's my stock response for people who say that, hand our bibles and come to my door at 3 in the afternoon while I'm...

Jersey Chick
05-30-2008, 09:15 AM
My response is usually that I'm too busy sacrificing <insert animal here> - that stops them dead in their tracks.

My best friend's father is born again - he's been trying to save me for well over 20 years. Maybe if everyone just figured "Hmm.. yanno... I'll just MYOB..." things'd be a lot more peaceful.

My feeling is that whatever works for you, works for you. So be it. It's all cool.

benbradley
05-30-2008, 10:03 AM
...Since I moved out here, I've had three total strangers ask me if I've been saved. The first time, I was standing in the grocery checkout line eating Oreos (yes, I paid for them later) and a little old lady tapped me on the arm and said, "Have you been saved?" Trying to keep cookie crumbs from tumbling out of my very full mouth, I replied, "From what?" I honestly had NO CLUE what she was talking about.
That's funny, and reminds me of the joke that goes the other way as far as misunderstanding the question:

"Is this seat saved?"
"No, but we're praying for it."

Zoombie
05-30-2008, 10:14 AM
I like that joke!

<jots it down>

I once had a small booklet that explains, in purely biblical terms, how I am not actually a member of the race spawned from Adam and Eve and thusly, the JWs can't preach to me...

It was pretty neat, actually.

Higgins
05-30-2008, 08:41 PM
Materialism can certainly seem trivial, but I think that has little to do with religious affiliation. The father of one of the friends of my youth was a pastor - and also sold household products via a party-plan scheme. He had immensely materialist ambitions and seemed to have fit his religion to them -- in much the way that you see modern televangelists do. And as you might expect, those who attended his church did the same. (To my mind, anyone who seeks to profit from those to whom they're providing moral and spiritual counselling needs a very serious course in ethics.)

One thing that's quite clear if you look outside the dogma of any single religion is that peoples of any faith (or no religious faith) are quite adept at constructing meaning and purpose in their lives and environs -- when they seek to. They're also very facile at becoming obsessed with ego-driven trivia, regardless of their dogma, or giving up on a particular purpose and meaning as banal.

I've expressed the idea in this forum before: you don't need to believe in superstitious myths to be a spiritual person.

From an aesthetic perspective, I also consider popular modern ideas of 'heaven' and 'hell' to be pretty banal (although I like some of the older versions for mythic purposes). I also consider the idea that all existence was created for a single humanocentric purpose to be simultaneously ill-defined, counter-factual and absurdly trivial.

Historical materialism can seem trivial at times as well. I knew a theoretical sort of Marxist a few years back who wasn't interested in
the world revolution, but who was interested in "the relations of production"....He went to a beautiful island to do some research on an outmoded mode of production (a sugar plantation with its own sugar factory to be exact) and whilst he was there going over the company records from long ago, he came across the beautiful daughter of the plantation owner who had a summer to kill back on the plantation for some reason. Romance ensued and in the end he married into the wealthy world of former owners of outmoded means of production. So, in a way, by various trivial means, his interest in Marxist theory made him a
plutocrat of sorts.

Miguelito
05-31-2008, 06:45 PM
I'm generalizing here for the sake of simplicity.

When Christians consider atheists to be evil, they are mistaking atheism for nihilism. They think that atheists can't have values. It's impossible because they don't believe in anything.

Which is funny because we do have values and they are often the same as Christian values (such as don't murder, don't cheat on your wife, don't steal, etc...), but they come from different places. Murder is wrong to a Christian because the ten commandments says so. Murder is wrong to an atheist (I'm talking more about a humanist here) because you're violating a person's right to life.

I often think we get lost in the differences when we do have so much in common and so much to get along about when it comes to values.

Roger J Carlson
05-31-2008, 06:52 PM
Murder is wrong to a Christian because the ten commandments says so. Murder is wrong to an atheist (I'm talking more about a humanist here) because you're violating a person's right to life.No. Murder is wrong to the Christian because Christ told us to love one another. Christ reduced all of the ten commandments and the rest of the Jewish law to these two things: Love God with all your heard and love your neighbor as yourself. If you did these two things, you would be moral.

Smiling Ted
05-31-2008, 07:34 PM
No. Murder is wrong to the Christian because Christ told us to love one another. Christ reduced all of the ten commandments and the rest of the Jewish law to these two things: Love God with all your heard and love your neighbor as yourself. If you did these two things, you would be moral.

Jesus didn't do that; Rabbi Hillel did, about a century before Jesus was born.
Jesus was smart; he cribbed from the best.

Memnon624
06-01-2008, 01:28 AM
Since I moved out here, I've had three total strangers ask me if I've been saved. The first time, I was standing in the grocery checkout line eating Oreos (yes, I paid for them later) and a little old lady tapped me on the arm and said, "Have you been saved?" Trying to keep cookie crumbs from tumbling out of my very full mouth, I replied, "From what?" I honestly had NO CLUE what she was talking about.

I'm an Alabama and I get this alot, too. Usually in the Wal-Mart parking lot . . .

Guy dressed as an undertaker approaching as I try to unlock my car. "Excuse me, sir? Have you found Jesus?"

Me, holding bags, looking like deer caught in religious headlights. "Hmmm . . . I have, yes. He's inside on aisle five, near the lightbulbs."

Escape while undertaker-looking guy is befuddled.

I've even thought of making up my own tracts with quotes from HP Lovecraft's Necronomicon so I'll have something to give the Jehovah's Witnesses who come to my door at truly ungodly hours . . .

Scott, a warm and fuzzy heretic

Jersey Chick
06-01-2008, 01:40 AM
That's the best. reply. ever.

AMCrenshaw
06-01-2008, 02:29 AM
"Murder is wrong to an atheist (I'm talking more about a humanist here) because you're violating a person's right to life."

I am curious: who or what says anyone has a "right to life" ? Why is it implicit in atheistic thought? Is it? (I'm genuinely interested)

Also: "Murder is wrong to a Christian because the ten commandments says so. Murder is wrong to an atheist (I'm talking more about a humanist here) because you're violating a person's right to life.

No. Murder is wrong to the Christian because Christ told us to love one another. Christ reduced all of the ten commandments and the rest of the Jewish law to these two things: Love God with all your heard and love your neighbor as yourself. If you did these two things, you would be moral."

You two are not disagreeing.

Last thing: What does keep atheism from being nihilism? Why does it matter if we keep a code of ethics?

These are questions I, as a nontheist, have difficulty anwering often times.

StoryG27
06-01-2008, 06:48 AM
Guy dressed as an undertaker approaching as I try to unlock my car. "Excuse me, sir? Have you found Jesus?"

Me, holding bags, looking like deer caught in religious headlights. "Hmmm . . . I have, yes. He's inside on aisle five, near the lightbulbs."

Escape while undertaker-looking guy is befuddled.

:roll:
I may have to use this one. Hilarious.

Miguelito
06-01-2008, 08:59 AM
"Murder is wrong to an atheist (I'm talking more about a humanist here) because you're violating a person's right to life."

I am curious: who or what says anyone has a "right to life" ? Why is it implicit in atheistic thought? Is it? (I'm genuinely interested)

Also: "Murder is wrong to a Christian because the ten commandments says so. Murder is wrong to an atheist (I'm talking more about a humanist here) because you're violating a person's right to life.

No. Murder is wrong to the Christian because Christ told us to love one another. Christ reduced all of the ten commandments and the rest of the Jewish law to these two things: Love God with all your heard and love your neighbor as yourself. If you did these two things, you would be moral."

You two are not disagreeing.

Last thing: What does keep atheism from being nihilism? Why does it matter if we keep a code of ethics?

These are questions I, as a nontheist, have difficulty anwering often times.
I said I was speaking more from humanism-atheism. Atheists can also be nihilistic, but most aren't (that I know of at least). They accept some values that are basic to the human condition (and unreliant on the existence of a higher power). The right to make choices about yourself. If you don't want to die at the hands of somebody else, then the action is clearly wrong.

And I'll say it: if murder is wrong in Christianity because the big guy says "love your neighbor" then we have much more in common than I originally said. That's a good thing.

What keeps atheism from being nihilism? The choice to have ethics or morals. Nihilists reject everything because anything can be deconstructed. Think of post-modernism (which is ironic because fundamentalist Christians love to use the post-modernistic method to try and derail scientific principles such as geology and evolution).

AMCrenshaw
06-01-2008, 10:57 AM
While you answered some of my questions, you did not answer: Why is there/who or what says there is a "right to life" ? Also, why does it matter if we have a code of ethics or not?

AMC

Toothpaste
06-01-2008, 07:11 PM
I would suggest that we have a code of ethics because if we all just did whatever we wanted to society would fall into chaos. Humans live in a community for self preservation reasons. If we raped and murdered and cut in line, had no consideration for others, this community would cease to be of benefit to humans.

Also, personally I think "right to life" is a bit of a general platitude. For me personally I wouldn't want to murder someone because 1) I personally would not like to be murdered , 2) because I have empathy and aside from the physical pain it would cause the person, I would not wish to cause such emotional pain to his/her family. I'm serious. After going through what I have recently, I would not wish this pain on anyone. 3) because it is not my place to make such judgments. Who am I to decide who gets to live and who doesn't? We have a legal system for that (and in Canada, even our system does not make that decision).

AMCrenshaw
06-01-2008, 07:15 PM
"Humans live in a community for self preservation reasons. If we raped and murdered and cut in line, had no consideration for others, this community would cease to be of benefit to humans."

This is interesting. It's like the personal self-preservation argument (which usually leads more to selfishness and competition) taken to a collective argument, which must lead to an effort toward some kind of harmony. I like it, hadn't heard it put like that before.

Miguelito
06-01-2008, 07:37 PM
What Toothpaste said.

If we didn't have certain rights (like one to live), we'd live in anarchy when anybody could decide whether anybody else deserved to live. A right to life is a very basic, good one to have.

If you want to be nihilistic, you can take that away because rights are a philosophical construct, something that doesn't exist on its own.